C.A. Seward

1884 - 1939

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Arthur William Hall 1889 - 1981

 


Arthur Hall was born in the small town of Bowie, Texas and spent his childhood in Oklahoma.  His initial formal training was at the Chicago Art Institute where he met his future wife, Norma Bassett.  In a later interview Hall recalled that one of the instructors at the Art Institute had told him that he “had a good feeling for line and that he should go into etching.”  This advice and further study ultimately resulted in Hall’s well recognized position as an important printmaker during his lifetime.


Hall’s study at the Chicago Art Institute was disrupted with the advent of World War I.  In 1921, after he returned from serving in the United States Infantry in Southern France,  Hall moved to El Dorado, Kansas, where he found a position as a court recorder for Judge Ayres in the Thirteenth Judicial District.  He had learned what he described as the Pittman method of shorthand during his student years and had kept at it even during his time in the army, this skill provided him with an ideal employment situation. The two month court recess during the summer allowed Hall an extended period of time to travel and pursue his work as an artist.  In 1922, he and Norma Bassett were married and they established a studio in their El Dorado home. Norma pursued her growing interest in making color block prints while Arthur made his earliest attempts at etchings under the tutelage of C.A. Seward in nearby Wichita.  In 1925, the Halls left El Dorado and traveled to Europe where they spent about two years studying and sketching in England, Scotland and in Paris and then the south of France. They began their trip in Edinburgh, Scotland, where Arthur studied with the noted English etcher E.S. Lumsden and Norma studied with Lumsden’s wife, Mable Royds, a well recognized block print artist. This period of study provided Hall with an extensive introduction to intaglio techniques as well as to the work of the historic figures of this medium and the many active members of what is known as the Etching Revival.   While they were in France, Hall acquired an etching press and began seriously pursing etching and began submitting his work to juried exhibitions in America.   After two years in Europe, the Halls returned to Kansas, where Hall resumed his job as a court recorder for Judge Ayres in  Howard, a town just south of their original El Dorado home.  It was during this time that the Halls became active participants in the group of artists in the Wichita area, and by 1930 joined this group as Charter Members of the Prairie Print Makers.  Letters and the Seward Family guest book document the close friendship they quickly developed with Seward. 


The Halls remained in Howard until after Seward’s death in 1939 when they began construction of a new home on the 48 acres they had purchased near Bluemont, Virginia. They moved to Virginia in the spring of 1942.  The advent of World War II and the ensuing financial challenges changed their sentiments about this new home and they returned briefly to Kansas where Arthur could resume his work as a court recorder. By 1944 they were able to purchase the Santa Fe home and studio of artist, Gerald Cassidy. This large 200 year-old adobe provided an ideal situation for the Halls to devote their attention fully to making art. Six years later, in 1950, they were offered the opportunity of moving to an historic adobe home that was part of a larger resort called Rancho del Rio.  Located between Santa Fe and Taos near the small town of Alcalde Rancho del Rio was a perfect place for the Hall’s to open a summer art school.  This situation insured financial security for the Halls for they now had a consistent small income from the school to combine with sales of their prints and paintings. From September through May they also had the freedom to pursue making their own art in the southwestern setting they were so deeply attached to.

 

Norma developed cancer during this time and after her death in 1957, Arthur continued the school.  In 1963, at the age of 70 he married a second time, Glada Lockhart, who had also been a friend during the Hall’s student days at the Chicago Art Institute.  Rancho del Rio was sold in 1969 and the Halls then lived briefly in Tucson and then purchased a home in Sun City to be near Hall’s brothers and sisters.  They eventually returned to New Mexico and settled in their last home in Albuquerque. 


Norma and Arthur were active in the New Mexico art community. With their move to Santa Fe and then to Rancho del Rio,  Arthur began to focus on his work as a painter and Norma expanded her exploration of serigraphs. In his last years Hall focused all of his attention to perfecting his skill as a watercolorist and remained active almost until his death in 1981 at the age of 91.  


Arthur Hall spent 25 years of his career focused on developing his skill in etching.   In discussing the quality of this work, C.A. Seward once said, “Mr. Hall knows the possibilities of his medium.  His viewpoint is always that of an etcher and he renders his subject in line.  His needle seems able to accomplish anything, perhaps because he never asks it to become a brush.  He is an etcher first and last, and his glory is in the brilliant purity of the etched line and the burr of drypoint.”  Hall’s etchings received notable, national acclaim.  In both 1927 and 1937 he was awarded two prestigious prizes and in addition was selected to create the Gift Print, not just for the Prairie Print Makers, but also the Chicago Society of Etchers and the Printmakers Society of California. Hall typically identified his prints with a signature and in rare instances his initials in the plate.  He signed his prints in pencil below the right corner of the image.  In a few rare cases the total number in the edition also appears in pencil below the image.                                  

                                       

Images above: photograph and promotional brochure for the Hall’s summer art school at Rancho del Rio in New Mexico, 2 of Hall’s etchings, “Field Hand” and “Bird Creek in Thaw”, an untitled watercolor by Hall and a photographs of Arthur from 1930 and about 1958 and below, small drawing titled, “Alameda.”

 

30 October 1889, Bowie, Texas

1981, Albuquerque, New Mexico


Education:

Chicago Art Institute

1925-27 travel in Europe and study with noted English etcher, E.S. Lumsden in Edinburgh


Professional Positions & Honors:

1950-1968 art school & studio, Rancho del Rio, Alcade, New Mexico


Charter Member - Prairie Print Makers - 1932 Gift Print

member of:

Society of American Etchers -

1937 - Henry B Shope Prize best etching

Chicago Society of Etchers - 1944 Gift Print

New York Society of Etchers

Printmakers Society of California - 1930 Gift Print


1927 Bryan Prize - 8th International Exposition of Prints, Los Angeles

Midwestern Artists’ Exhibition, Kansas City Art Institute

1929 - La Rue Obscure, Edge of Antibes, Neighbors, Aunt Lou

1930 - Sunny Balconies, Tourrettes, Man in Gray Hat

1931 - by Invitation,  Village Under Snow, Italian Wine Boat

1932 - The Crab Wharf - Bronze Medal, The High Road

1933 - Silver Medal -Arabella


Museum Collections:

Library of Congress & Smithsonian, Washington, D.C.

Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris,

Kansas City Art Institute

Wichita Art Museum, Kansas

Spencer Museum of Art, Kansas

Beach Museum of Art, Kansas

Sandzen Memorial Gallery

Baker University, Kansas

 
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Arthur W. Hall fine prints catalog is now available at the Wichita Art Museum.  Exhibition will be April 2 - August 9, 2016 at the Wichita Art Museum.

Always interested in information about Hall and his prints, please contact me at bthomdes@gmail.com.