C.A. Seward

1884 - 1939

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Transcriptions of the letters:


Westport

May 1937


Dear C. A.: 


Thanks very much for the letter and entry blank concerning the exhibition at Rockefeller Plaza. Also much obliged for sending on the bronze pelican. All want to see the pelican again before deciding whether or not to let him go in - it has been so long since I saw him. May decide to send the plaster of the large Pelican Fountain.

God this has been a sad sad winter and spring for us. There are times when I think

everything is pretty damned crazy - Mother mentioned having a good visit with you and surely it did her lots of good - There are so many things one can think of to write and golly but I’d like to drop in on you all for a month or two.

At any rate C.A. although you undoubtedly consider me a lousey (sic) correspondent -

please always remember that we think of you very often, not only with admiration but deep

affection.

More anon -

Always faithfully,


Bruce 

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Westport

June 9 - 1937


Dear C.A. 


Just a note to let you know that I am sending, instead of the small pelican sent to

(Budworth’s?) - the large plaster of the Pelican Fountain. This I consider a better thing and it will, I believe, show up better in such a show.

Gosh - another summer is full upon us. Suppose you now know we are living in John

Curry’s studio. By the way - I told him everything you wished me to and he promised to

correspond with you - However this was just as he was in the throes of moving to Madison so I don’t know if anything came of it. I would suggest that you write to him up there, c/o the U. of Wisconsin.

By the way - do you know of and or have you any suggestions regarding teaching jobs?

Mother is back in Washington with Dad and Frances - How are you feeling and how goes

the work?

Best to you all

Faithfully

 

Bruce 

 

Bruce Moore - letters to Seward

(from the Seward family collection & the Bruce Moore Archives at the Wichita Center for the Arts)

The four letters that remain of the correspondence between Moore and Seward both testify to Seward’s ongoing role as a mentor to Moore as well as to the relationships of Seward, Moore, and John Steuart Curry, all Kansas-born artists.


The first letter, written to Seward from Westport in 1937, talks about Moore’s Pelican Fountain, a casting of which is now in Pratt, Kansas.  Moore also thanks Seward for sending him the entry blank for an exhibition at Rockefeller Plaza. The second letter written a month later informs Seward that Moore is now living in John Curry’s studio and  he has related Seward’s information to Curry, but thinks it would be a good idea for Seward to send his advice in a letter to Curry who is now at the University of Wisconsin. This letter also discusses Moore’s decision about a piece he is sending for a show in Wichita and then also sends family news and concerns about Seward’s health. 


The third letter from Seward to Moore provides insight into the financial trials of being an artist during the depression years and also discusses Seward’s thoughts about the architectural sculptural ornamentation for the new Wichita Art Museum.  In the fourth letter Seward once again returns to his ongoing discussin with Moore about John Steuart Curry.  Interestingly Curry did send a letter to Seward to pursue joining the Prairie Print Makers.


In June of 1937 a group of Kansas newspaper editors had started a movement to commission mural for the Kansas State Capitol from Curry. Seward’s advice to Curry was likely related to this commission. Controversy and conflicting interests embroiled in the process and the murals were not completed until 1942.  Curry considered these paintings to be among his greatest work.

Images on this page (top to bottom, left to right): photograph of both Moore’s bust of Seward and Seward’s lithograph of Moore at work.  Photograph of John Steuart Curry (collection of Kansas State Historical Society.)  Letters from Seward Family collection. For more information go to website of Kansas State Historical Society - KansasMemory.org

Return to Bruce MooreBruce_Moore.html

John Steuart Curry in his studio in Wisconsin

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Feb. 10 – ‘35


Dear Bruce –– Glad to hear from you again. It surely is tough, as you say –– to be so driven by necessity all the time that one cannot have the quiet fellowship with the friend one most wishes to cultivate. We are so set aside here now under the new order of things that we seldom get in on anything except one of these “staged” affairs where they need some one to help foot the bills. And work a plenty, to keep my head above water has, and is yet, some task. No one will ever know just what I’ve had to face these last few years, and thank God, my family even don’t realize how perilously close to the brink we all are.


    O well ! enough of that. Say, you know the more I look at these panels in the P.O. the more I think that some real sculptured things, perhaps with color backgrounds etc. might be better than painted murals –– Hope you give it some thought –– quickly ––!  I should like to see you do them if it is at all possible.


    I am anxious to see the “Pelican” Your mother has told me about it and I know I am going to get a kick out of it. Do let me know as soon as it lands here, and I will go over to see it.


    The Museum is progressing nicely –– and it’s going to help things here, unless there is a hell of a racket set up over that details of running it. I was out to the stone company yesterday to see Laurie’s models for the doorway. I like the conventional ornament fine –– but the figure panels do not seem to fit into the thing –– they break style too much to suit me –– but then I don’t know anything about sculpture. Some time I hope you and I can discuss this thing privately –– I have a hunch I am right about it but am not saying anything openly here. Did you see the models before they came out here?


    Well old boy, I’ll be looking for a letter soon about these panels! With best wishes to you both.       CA

Nov 1 – ‘36


Dear Bruce ––


    Glad to hear from you again. I should like to see the work you are doing at Fraziers –– it sounds very exciting. Perhaps I may be priviledged [sic] to go East again some time and hope to see the work in place on the Arlington bridge. (But that’s a pretty ambitious program for an old stick like me to even suggest)


    I am glad to have your comments on Curry. I too think he will go farther than either Benton or Wood. And this brings up the Curry matter I spoke of.


    When Curry first broke into print in New York, Mrs. Navas sent me some clippings and I got busy at once to see what help we could be to getting him (his work) acquainted with Kansas folks. No one here seemed to know him or ever heard of him. Frankly it looked to me like a “dealers” frame up to keep him covered up till they were ready to put him over on the public. Well anyway I never was able to get a reply to my letters –– I surmise they never got past his dealer, the Feragil Galleries, for I can’t think that he would purposely refuse to answer.


    Well –– more than a year passed and then Maynard Walker came in to my office one day and hopped all over me saying I was blocking Curry’s getting into Kansas shows –– when –– ye God’s I’d been trying to get something started for months. About that time the press antagonism to Currys “Cyclone” etc. began to be spread about and it was difficult to do anything. We finally did get a show at the library –– and it used some of his lithographs in a circulating Kansas print show. Walker also gave me hell because Curry was not in the Prairie Print Makers –– well he was invited –– but no reply –– and Walker could not make a satisfactory explanation of it.


    Curry should belong to our group –– Kansas could have done more for him if we had had the contact. And Kansas art circles can yet do some constructive work for him. We are happy that the place has been opened for him by Dr. Glenn Frank. However the occasional ‘sting’ of a slurring remark in press notices to the effect that Kansas did nothing for him and did not even ‘own a print of his’ –– etc –– that will not do him any good with the folks here who would have gladly done what they could had they been permitted. Other Kansas artists have been treated well by Kansas as you know in may instances. –– Well that is the background of this thing. And these frank comments are given to you for your own consumption. You can use your own judgement [sic] in how much of it you wish to pass on to Curry ––  the fact is we would like to have him in our Prairie Print Makers –– if he wishes to be one of us, and if he feels that the cooperation will be mutually beneficial. We circulate a good many exhibitions each year at a small fraction of the cost that would [be] necessary for the artist to do it himself. There is no cost to the artist –– dues only $1.00 a year. If Curry is interested we will be glad to revive the membership proposal again. If he is not interested we will still feel just as kindly toward him. Inclosed is [sic] a few items that may be of interest. Use your own pleasure in presenting this to Curry –– and if you feel that it is not wise to do so –– just let it pass.


    We are having swell weather here now and I long to be out of doors. I did manage to get a few prints made this fall and have done a few magazine articles, nothing unusual. Well I must lay off and give you a chance to come up for air. Best wishes to you both from all the Sewards.    –– C. A.