Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Who Inspired Anna Crocker?

Anna B Crocker wasn't the first female curator at the Portland Art Museum. She is the successor to Henrietta Failing, daughter of founder Henry Failing. Crocker took Failing's position but she might remind one more of Julia Hoffman.
Lets start with Henrietta, who was the curator when the museum moved into its first location on 5th and Taylor, and out of the library where it had its beginning in 1892. Henrietta organized the first exhibition the Portland Art Museum ever had, it was a water color show. Failing went back and forth about whether she could include craft in the show because artist Frank Vincent Dumond, who was head of Lewis and Clark's art department and co-curator for the show, was adamantly opposed. He said there simply wasn't room and it would be absurd to mix the two up. Failing acquiesced, Dumond would have had a harder time if he'd been up against Julia Hoffman.
Craft as art was important to Julia Hoffman, who spent a great deal of time between the East and West coast art worlds. Hoffman urged Henrietta Failing to do a craft show in 1904, and shipped pieces from the Boston Society of Art and Craft exhibition, which she curated.
Hoffman who was always avid for her cause, wanted a two month workshop for Portland with one of the country's leading metal artist. When Henrietta Failing wired her that it wouldn't be possible for a number of reasons, Hoffman said "It will have to come if we want to keep pace with the rest of our country and it is too bad to have any delay."
Of course Hoffman got her way, in 1907 Mildred Watkins instructed a Summer School of Metalwork. That year, because of the inspiration of both the show Hoffman encouraged based on pieces borrowed from Portland Families and the Boston exhibition, and on the summer school of metal craft, the Art and Craft Society of Portland formed. To learn more see go read part of The Art and Craft Movement in the Pacific Northwest.
Anna Crocker followed Henrietta Failing as curator, but she seems to have had more of the Julia Hoffman fire inside her.
This is Julia Hoffman's self portrait. I cannot help but to think she must have been an inspiration to Anna B. Crocker.

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