Recent Books | November 1997

Cowgirl Rising, southwest art.

By Donna Tennant

Cowgirl Rising: The Art of Donna Howell-Sickles
Text by Peg Streep
Introduction by Teresa Jordan

“Joyous and gutsy” says Ann Richards, former governor of Texas, about Donna Howell-Sickles’ memorable and distinctive cowgirls. “Confident and strong,” writes Teresa Jordan in the introduction. Whether riding a bucking horse, fly fishing, dancing, or lounging beside a longhorn steer, one arm draped casually over a long white horn, these lanky women convey great exuberance and a zest for life. Howell-Sickles grew up with horses and cattle on a ranch near the Red River in northern Texas. She decided to become a painter while in college at Texas Tech University, Lubbock. From the beginning, she was interested in the cowgirl and her rodeo lifestyle as a symbol of womanhood and the cycles of a woman’s life. After reading folklore and mythology about women, she began using crescent-shaped horns and phases of the moon; the white bull of lunar wisdom and empowerment; the raven, messenger of the gods; and the dog, companion to the huntress Artemis. About Howell-Sickles’ cowgirl Streep writes, “By turns she may be the Earth Mother or the mistress of the beasts, the Greek goddess of the moon or music, the Native American spirit of the corn.”

1997 Greenwich Workshop, Shelton, CT (ISBN 0-86713-034-2), 128 pages, 120 color  illustrations, $35 hardbound

The Desert is No Lady, southwest art.

The Desert is No Lady: Southwestern Landscapes in Women’s Writing and Art
Edited by Vera Norwood and Janice Monk

“If the desert were a woman, I know well what like she would be: deep-breasted, broad in the hips, tawny, with tawny hair … passionate but not necessitous, patient—and you could not move her, no, not if you had all the earth to give, so much as one tawny hair’s-breadth beyond her own desires.”—Mary Austin, Lost Borders [1909]. Women as diverse as writer Willa Cather, painter Georgia O’Keeffe, and photographer Laura Gilpin have found the American Southwest conducive to the creation of their work. These women made their contributions to the traditions already established by Hispanic, Mexican-American, and American Indian women. This book explores how their connections to place shaped their artistic voices. The 11 chapters cover a century of Anglo, Hispanic, and Native American women, including Mabel Dodge Luhan, Mary Austin, Nancy Newhall, Joan Didion, Pat Mora, Grace Medicine Flower, and Camilio Tafoya. Vera Norwood is a professor and chair of American studies at the University of New Mexico, and Janice Monk is the executive director of the Southwest Institute for Research on Women at the University of Arizona.

1997 University of Arizona Press, Tucson, AZ (ISBN 0-8165-1649-9), 281 pages, 80 black-and-white illustrations, $19.95 softbound

Aunt Carmen's Book of Practical Saints

Aunt Carmen’s Book of Practical Saints
By Pat Mora

This book of poetry by well-known Chicana author Pat Mora is written in the voice of Mora’s elderly Aunt Carmen, who knows her saints intimately. Her prayers are essentially conversations with the patrons of her desires. She asks for a suitable husband (“may he frown at liquor … could he be a millionaire … make my smile turn him to gelatin”) and requests that Saint Ana, Mary’s mother and Jesus’ grandmother, patron saint of pregnant women, bless all women. Each poem is accompanied by a color image of a carving or painting from the collection of the Folk Art Museum of Santa Fe, NM. Short biographies or legends of Carmen’s saints are included.

1997 Beacon Press, Boston (ISBN 0-8070-7206-0), 128 pages, 33 color illustrations, $20 hardbound

Expanding Circles: Women, Art & Community
Edited by Betty Ann Brown

This book explores the intersection of women, creativity, and community. Betty Ann Brown writes of the need for communities that are neither patriarchal nor hierarchical, authoritarian nor demeaning. Contributors include artists, poets, playwrights, and scholars who write about alternative definitions of community, about using art and art processes to build community, and about living in creative communities. Also included are performance artists, political artists, and artists who use image and text as well as time, space, and sound to create new genres. The essays are by and about some 40 women, including Judy Chicago, Suzanne Lacy, Lucy R. Lippard, Katherine Ng, Rosalie Ortega, Arlene Raven, Rachel Rosenthal, Sandra Rowe, Ruth Weisberg, and Terry Wolverton. The book’s four sections—History, Identity, Building, and Living in Community—are preceded by comprehensive introductory essays placing each contributor in context.

1996 Midmarch Arts Books (ISBN 1-87765-21-0), New York, NY, 352 pages, 55 black-and-white illustrations, $22 softbound

Mary Hallock Foote: Pioneer Woman Illustrator
By Doris Bickford-Swarthout

Mary Hallock Foote was a well-known and admired author-illustrator in the late 19th century but, like many women, has been nearly forgotten by the artistic and literary community. Born in 1847 in Milton, NY, on a farm along the Hudson River, she studied art in New York City and soon decided on a career as an illustrator. At age 20 she received her first commission to illustrate Beyond the Mississippi, a book by Albert D. Richardson. In 1976 she married Arthur DeWint Foote, a mining engineer, and moved with him to California and later Colorado. Reluctant to leave the East Coast at first, she eventually came to admire the beauty of the West; after Arthur retired in the 1920s they returned to Boston, but Foote’s final wish was to be buried in Grass Valley, CA. Foote contributed to many magazines of her day, including Scribner’s Monthly, Harper’s Monthly, and Hearth and Home. She illustrated Hanging of the Crane by Henry W. Longfellow and The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Her drawings accompanied “Under the Lilacs” by Louisa May Alcott in St. Nicholas, and her own fiction and nonfiction writings were published in Scribner’s and Atlantic Monthly, among others. Many examples of both are included here.

1996 Berry Hill Press, Deansboro, NY (ISBN 0-9646900-2-0), 119 pages, 168 illustrations, $35 hardbound

Tending the Fire: The Story of Maria Martinez
By Juddi Morse

This biography for young readers is about Maria Martinez, the artist best-known for reviving the dying art of ceramic pottery among the Tewa people. Her first pieces were clay dishes for her playhouse. Later, with help from her husband, Julian, she perfected the lost technique of her now famous black-on-black pottery. Although Martinez became quite famous, giving demonstrations at world’s fairs and being invited to the White House four times, she always remained a vital part of her community at San Ildefonso Pueblo near Santa Fe, NM.

1997 Northland Press, Flagstaff, AZ (ISBN 0-87358-665-4), 120 pages, 14 black-and-white illustrations, $12.95 hardbound

A Vision of Silence: The Landscape Paintings of Doris Steider
Text by Mary Carroll Nelson

Doris Steider has had 78 one-woman shows, won more than 70 awards, and had a street in Albuquerque, NM (where she lives), named after her. She works in the ancient medium of egg tempera, which involves mixing her pigments—watercolors, caseins, acrylics—with egg yolks. Sometimes combining her brushwork with airbrush, Steider may build up as many as 50 layers of paint. A final varnish made with the white of an egg enhances the light-reflecting glow of the surface. Harmony in art as well as in life has always been Steider’s goal. “Wherever I live, I’ll have to paint this kind of thing—the old fences, the mountains, the countryside, the environment. As I paint them, these become to me landscapes of remembering and waiting … moods into which another could weave his own life and dreams.” The book is also available in a deluxe edition (ISBN 1-889741-02-7) with an original pen-and-ink sketch by Steider.

1996 Alta Luz Ltd., Albuquerque, NM (ISBN 1-889741-00-0), 64 pages, 40 color illustrations, $25 softbound.

Featured in November 1997