An interview of Mary Fuller McChesney conducted 1994 Sept. 28, by Susan Landauer, for the Archives of American Art, Women in the Arts in Southern California Oral History Project, at the artist's home, on Sonoma Mountain, Calif.
Fuller McChesney discusses her childhood and growing up during the Depression; her student days at the University of California, Berkeley; the political response on the campus to WWII and the Japanese interment; her experience working as a welder in the shipyards which she considers her introduction to sculpture; her introduction to the art community in San Francisco through the cooperative Artists' Guild Gallery; her association with the Abstract Expressionists at the California School of Fine Arts in the 1940s; her foray into writing fiction and her success as a mystery writer; her work on the Archives of American Art's oral history project documenting the WPA art project in California; her first significant publication on the San Francisco School of Abstract Expressionism, Period of Exploration, and the interviews she conducted in the mid-late 1960s for the project.
She describes her attitudes and philosphies about art; living at Point Richmond with her husband Robert McChesney, Edward Corbett, Hassel Smith, and poet Weldon Kees during the late 1940s; her impressions of the Cedar Bar and New York artists during the mid-late 1960s; her own artistic evolution and career as a sculptor; the intellectual and artistic sources of her work; her subjects and techniques; her public commissions; her audience and market; and her experiences and perspectives as a woman artist and feminist. She recalls Edward Corbett, Willem De Kooning, Richard Diebenkorn, Weldon Kees, Douglas MacAgy, Bea Mandelman, Conrad Marca-Relli, Agnes Martin, Robert McChesney, David Park, Ad Reinhardt, Louis Ribak, Hassel Smith, Clay Spohn, Clyfford Still, and Esteban Vicente.
Biographical / Historical:
Mary Fuller McChesney (1922-2022) was a sculptor and art historian in San Francisco and Petaluma, Calif.
Originally recorded on 2 sound cassettes. Reformatted in 2010 as 4 digital wav files. Duration is 2 hrs., 58 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. Funding for this interview was provided by the Margery and Harry Kahn Philanthropic Fund of the Jewish Communal Fund of New York.
Transcript available on the Archives of American Art website.
An interview of Leo Holub conducted 1997 July 3, by Paul Karlstrom, for the Archives of American Art, in San Francisco, Calif.
Holub discusses his background, being born in Arkansas, moving to New Mexico, and then to Oakland, Calif. (1923); early educational experiences in Oakland, and later at the Art Institute of Chicago; seeing Edward Weston's photographic work at an exhibition in Chicago, and admiring Weston's nude studies of Charis Wilson; his return to the Bay Area; his studio on Montgomery St. (Monkey Block); meeting painter Matthew Barnes, who had assisted Diego Rivera with his murals at the California School of Fine Arts (CSFA), 1931-1932; his experiences as a student at CSFA- its program and instructors which included Maurice Sterne, Gottardo Piazzoni, Lee Randolph, Dick Hackett, Otis Oldfield, William Gaw, Spencer Mackey, and Victor Arnautoff; fellow students including Hassel Smith, Ed Corbett, and Florence Michelson (his future wife); and his beginning awareness of modernism.
Holub discusses his involvement with the Golden Gate International Exposition (1939); apprenticeship with industrial designer Joe Sinel and the advent of the product design era; his founding of Design Development Associates, and staying only a year before moving to Grass Valley, Calif. for his son's health; his return to the Bay Area, succeeding Emmy Lou Packard at the San Francisco Planning Office graphic arts dept.; working at the housing agency and redevelopment agency and as chief designer for the Bay Area Rapid Transit report.
He recalls his encounter with Ansel Adams at the 1955 Yosemite workshop where Holub produced a pictorial map of Yosemite; Adam's "zone system" of exposing for shadows and developing for highlights; going on to teach at CSFA (1955-1957), where Imogen Cunningham was a guest instructor; Minor White replacing him; his ten years at Stanford University's planning office (1960-1970); his campus views "Stanford Scene" that were used by the university to appeal for more space for the art dept., and his shows at Stanford's art gallery in 1964 and at the Washington, D.C. home of Vice President Walter Mondale in 1980.
Biographical / Historical:
Leo Holub (1916-2010) was a photographer, lithographer, and teacher from San Francisco, Calif.
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.
Photographers -- California -- San Francisco -- Interviews Search this
The Mary Fuller McChesney papers measure 44.1 linear feet and date from 1949-2011. Included are biographical material, correspondence, writings, artists' files, financial records, photographs, artwork, printed material, and reel-to reel sound recordings documenting the career of sculptor, art historian, and author, Mary Fuller McChesney. A small portion of the papers includes material on painter, Edward Corbett.
Among the sound recordings are interviews conducted by McChesney between 1965 and 1966, and used as the primary research for her book. Interviewees include Jeremy Anderson, Dorr Bothwell, Ernest Briggs, Joan Brown (2), Lawrence Calcagno (2), Edward Corbett (2), James Budd Dixon, Edward Dugmore, Jorge Goya, Dimitri Grachis, John Grillo (1966, 1972), John Hultberg, Jack Jefferson, James Kelly, Walter Kuhlman, Seymour Locks, Douglas MacAgy, Madeleine Martin, William Morehouse, Raymond Parker, Leonard Pollakoff, Ad Reinhardt, Deborah Remington, Phil Roeber, John Saccaro, Jon Schueler, Peter Shoemaker, Hassel Smith, Clay Spohn, Jean Varda, and James Weeks.
Biographical / Historical:
Mary Fuller McChesney (1922-2022) was a sculptor, art historian, and author in San Francisco and Petaluma, California.
A majority of the collection donated 2015 by Mary Fuller McChesney. Photographs on reel 1329 donated 1973 and sound recordings donated 1994 by McChesney. Material on reel NDA 1 (fr. 728-741) lent for microfilming 1964 by Lewis Ferbrache; material on NDA 1 (fr. 930-943) lent 1964 by Mary F. McChesney.
This collection is temporarily closed. Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center.
7 Linear feet ((partially microfilmed on 7 reels))
Scope and Contents:
Biographical information, correspondence, scrapbooks, writings, artwork and art-related information, photographic materials, school records, financial materials, miscellaneous items, and printed materials. Also included are papers of Rosamond Corbett's husband, economist Rifat Tirana (3 ft.).
REELS 4376-4382: Biographical information includes personal documents, photographs, clippings, yearbooks, letters and other items. Correspondence, ca. 1940-1978, is with Clay Spohn (1960s), Ad Reinhardt (1940s, 1950s, and 1960s), Clyfford Still (1950s and 1960s), Mary Fuller and Robert McChesney, Grace Borgenicht, Andrew Dasburg, Richard Diebenkorn, Ira Glackens, Gyorgy Kepes, Katharine Kuh, David Leonard, Richard Merkin, Dorothy Miller, Seong Moy, Jerry Nordland, Hassel W. Smith, Earl Stoh, Alan Temko, Tirana Family members, Jack Tworkov, Anna Strunsky Walling (Rosamond's mother), and Adja Yunkers. Scrapbooks, 1948-1978, on Edward, contain photographs, clippings, correspondence (much of it from the Grace Borgenicht Gallery), exhibition catalogs, and printed materials; one is on on Rosamond and her family, 1932-1952 (during her marriage to economist Rifat Tirana).
Other material includes notes and poetry written by the Corbetts; artwork and art-related information primarily of Edward Corbett, including a sketchbook, loan agreements and receipts, information about the sale of his paintings, and exhibition catalogs and reviews; photographs, negatives and slides of the Corbetts and others, and of works of art; teaching files from Mount Holyoke College and the University of California at Santa Barbara; financial records, including statements, contracts, and receipts; exhibition catalogs; clippings; and an engagement calendar (1958) for Edward Corbett. Also included are materials on drug abuse.
UNMICROFILMED: Papers of Rifat Tirana, including resumes; correspondence, 1942-1952; notes, writings, lectures, and printed material on international trade; reports on pre-World War II Albania written while serving in the League of Nations, 1932-1939; manuscript of Tirana's SPOIL OF EUROPE, 1941, published under the pseudonym Thomas Reveille; and clippings.
Biographical / Historical:
Edward Corbett (1919-1971) and his wife Rosamond Walling Tirana Corbett (1910-1999) were painters from Calif., N.M., Mass., and Washington, D.C. Edward Corbett was an early Abstract Expressionist. Married Rosamond Tirana in 1962. Rosamund Tirana was married to Rifat Tirana (d. 1952). Died June 27, 1999.
Donated 1983 by Mrs. Rosamond Tirana Corbett.
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Microfilmed materials must be consulted on microfilm. Contact Reference Services for more information.
The Clay Spohn papers measure 20.4 linear feet and date from circa 1862 to 1985 with the bulk of the material dating from 1890 to 1985. The collection consists of biographical material, correspondence, business records, notes and writings, art work, printed material, and photographs which reflect the life and career of painter and educator Clay Spohn.
Scope and Content Note:
The Clay Spohn papers measure 20.4 linear feet and date from circa 1862 to 1985 with the bulk of the material dating from 1890 to 1985. The collection consists of biographical material, correspondence, business records, notes and writings, artwork, printed material, and photographs reflecting the life and career of painter and educator Clay Spohn.
Part 1 includes sketchbooks with annotated drawings by Spohn, writings including reminiscensces by Spohn, letters, clippings, and photographs of Spohn's artwork.
Part 2 includes biographical material; correspondence between Spohn and his colleagues; business records such as Spohn's general accounting records; Spohn's notes and writings on a variety of subjects; drawings and sketchbooks; printed material such as exhibition announcements and catalogs; and photographs of subjects such as Spohn, his family and colleagues, his house, and his artwork.
The collection is arranged into three parts. Part 1 was lent to the Archives of American Art in 1964 by Clay Spohn, and was microfilmed and returned to Spohn. Part 2 was donated to the Archives of American Art by Urban Neininger in 1978 and was partially microfilmed. Because material from part 2 was not processed until over three decades after filming Part 1, the overall organization is inconsistent. In general, material within folders is arranged chronologically.
Part 1: Clay Spohn Papers, 1926-1963
Part 2: Clay Spohn Papers, circa 1862-1985 (boxes 1-22, OV 23, 19.9 linear ft.)
Part 3: Addition to the Clay Spohn Papers, 1958-1977 (box 24; 0.4 linear ft.)
Clay Edgar Spohn was born November 24, 1898, in San Francisco, to Lena (Schaefer) and John Henry Spohn. From 1919 to 1921, Spohn studied at the University of California at Berkeley, and from 1922 to 1924, he studied at the Art Students League in New York under Kenneth Hayes Miller, Boardman Robinson, George Luks and Guy Pene Du Bois. He also became acquainted with Alexander Calder at the Art Students League. In 1924, Spohn was employed as an assitant designer to muralist Ezra Winter. From 1926 to 1927 he studied in Paris at the Academie Modern, a school run by Fernand Leger and Orthon Fireze.
Returning to San Francisco in 1927, Spohn became an active member in the Bay Area art scene. The Treasury Department commissioned him, in 1938, to execute a mural for the Montebello, California post office, and in 1939, he completed another mural under the sponsorship of the WPA for Los Gatos Union High School in Los Gatos, California.
In 1942, the San Francisco Museum of Art mounted Spohn's solo exhibition "Fantastic War Machines and Guerragraphs", consisting of a series of drawings inspired by dreams of World War II. From 1945 until his resignation in 1950, Spohn was employed as instructor of drawing and painting at the California School of Fine Arts, where he befriended Clyfford Still and Mark Rothko. In 1949, at the California School, he organized a group exhibition entitled "The Museum of Unknown and Little Known Objects", in which Spohn's extraordinarily-constructed objects were a focal point.
Spohn moved to Taos, New Mexico in 1952, and participated in several national exhibitions. He was Visiting Lecturer at Mount Holyoke College, Massachusetts, in 1958, after which he moved to New York City where he executed a series of paintings under the sponsorship of the collector J. Patrick Lannan. From 1964 to 1969, he taught at the School of Visual Arts in New York.
After a two year move to Taos, Spohn returned to New York in 1971. In 1974, the Oakland Museum sponsored a retrospective of Spohn's work.
Clay Spohn died in New York City on December 19, 1977.
The Archives of American Art also holds material lent for microfilming (D169) including sketchbooks, writings, correspondence, and related material. Lent materials were returned to the lender and are described in the first series of the finding aid.
The material on reel D169 was lent for filming by Clay Spohn in 1964. The material on reel 5461-5474 was donated by Spohn's friend and the executor of his estate, Urban Neininger, in 1978. An additional 0.4 linear feet of papers were donated by Spohn's biographer, David Beasley, in 2008.
The collection is open for research. Use of unfilmed material requires an appointment.
Painting, Modern -- 20th century -- New York (State) -- New York Search this