An interview of Miriam Colwell conducted in her home 2005 June 10-11, by Susan C. Larsen, for the Archives of American Art, in Prospect Harbor, Maine.
Colwell discusses her family's long history in Maine; the ancestral home in which she still resides; her mother dying of influenza and her father, an invalid; living with her grandparents, who spoiled her; the dinners her grandmother hosted for Summer residents; graduating as valedictorian and enrolling in the University of Maine, Orono; dropping out after one year; meeting Chenoweth Hall through her friend, Louise, who worked at a restaurant "Chennie" frequented; visiting Chenoweth in New York City and deciding soon afterwards to move there; immersion into the cultural world of New York; working as a salesperson and a consumer researcher; returning to Prospect Harbor with Chenoweth; working as town postmaster; moving into a house on the beach with Chenoweth; their many acquaintances in the arts, particularly Marsden Hartley; Hartley's death; and the different ways in which she and Chenoweth approached the arts. Colwell also discusses her delving into a literary career; the relationships with publishers and literary agents; the inspirations for "Young" and "Wind off the Water"; her and Chenoweth's frequent travels; being on a trans-Atlantic passenger liner that caught fire; a never-published novel about a group of Maine expatriates in Israel; selling the movie rights of "Young" and the movie's failed production; Chenoweth's multiple talents; Chenoweth teaching at University of Maine, Machias; the onset of Chenoweth's Parkinson's Disease; spending winters on Jekyll Island, Georgia; Chenoweth's death; and the subsequent handling of Chenoweth's estate. Colwell also recalls Erle Loran, Christine Watson, Ruth Stone, Ken McCormick, John Marin, Bernice Baumgarten, Katherine Hathaway, Malvin Albright, Ivan Albright, Berenice Abbott, Paul Strand, Vincent Hartgen, and others.
Biographical / Historical:
Miriam Colwell (1917- ) is an author from Prospect Harbor, Maine. Susan C. Larsen is an art historian from Tenants Harbor, Maine.
Originally recorded on 3 sound discs. Reformatted in 2010 as 3 digital wav files. Duration is 3 hr., 27 min.
This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and administrators.
Biographical material, writings, correspondence, clippings, photographs, sketchbooks, and a scrapbook related to Hall's career as a sculptor, painter, musician, and writer.
Biographical material includes resumes, obituaries, Hall's thesis "Integration in the teaching of Musical History" written for Columbia University, 1936. Correspondence includes letters from Paul Strand, Berenice Abbott, Malvina Hoffmann, John Marin, Jr., Thornton Wilder, May Sarton, Herbert Read, Erle Loran; Katherine and Dan Hathaway's correspondence referring to mutual friend Marsden Hartley; and postcards written by Hall and Miriam Colwell on a trip to Virginia and environs in 1946. Writings include drafts and mss. of many short stories, novels, plays, including The Crow and The Spruce, A Tale Twice Told, The Fictitious I, Conversation After Midnight, The Conjurer, Moon Forgot, An Unimportant Little Man, Sink or Swim, The Conjurer, Taygetus, The Heir, Again the Sun, A Portrait of Maine (a collaborative publication with Beatrice Abbott); essays, and composition books. Photographs are of Hall, her family, pets, Miriam Colwell, and photographs and a photograph album of Hall's works of art. The scrapbook contains clippings covering Hall's entire career. The videotape, 1989, (VHS, ca. 25 min.) is of Hall and Miriam Colwell in their home showing Hall's sculpture.