Wednesday, August 12, 2009

C. S. Price ~ Amanda Snyder and Ina Perham, Two Women Who Knew Him

My originals plans for today's post were to write about C. S Price and his desire to paint the essence of his subject. Then Amy posted a portrait of C. S. Price by Jefferson Tester. She raised the question as to what their relationship was and that sent me on an internet search. I did find the connection and a bit more about the people in the life of our man C. S. Price. The first part of this post still does speak to looking for the essence. In the 40's, Price painted more abstractly, once saying "Paint what you see through the eye not what you see with the eye." That statement holds true for the series of heads with barely defined features and staring eyes. Most were of muted colors, none nearly as dark and haunting as the one that was entitled Head and shown in the memorial exhibition produced by the Portland Art Museum and the Walker Art Center. The image above is only a partial view of Head painted around 1938. A friend commented on how the painting had an odd resemblance to Price. Price was said to have replied that it had something of him in it and then added "But this hulk's not me." The image of the Head is the self-portrait Amy talked of yesterday.

So who was C. S. Price? The story goes that he was a ranch hand in Wyoming. That he went to art school for a year because a friend loaned him money. That he was an illustrator for Pacific Monthly here in Portland. That he moved to California and then returned to Portland in 1928. That he painted for the WPA. And painted and painted and painted. Who were some of his friends? In the Society of Six, Nancy Boas writes about the artists who had migrated to Monterey. Painting, sculpting many of them worked in the canneries to supplement their income. There Price met August Guy, Robert V. Howard, the Bruton sisters and Ina Perham. Guy taught Price how to carve and make frames – another way Price added to his income along with gambling and an occasional fiddle session. All of these artist rented rooms and studio space in the Stevenson house and they all painted as a group. Shown on the left is Helen Bruton's woodcut entitled The Party. Each of the Bruton sisters is dancing. August Guy is changing a record. And our man C. S. Price is sitting with Ina Perham. Perham, it seems, was an artist who Price shared a studio with there at the Stevenson House. Here's an image of Perham and one of her paintings.

Reading more about C. S. Price, I found that Jefferson Tester was the brother of Amanda Snyder. Snyder took classes at the Portland Art Museum's school and exhibited her work in many shows. When she met Price, there was an immediate kinship – each painted with a spiritual style, looking for the essence. Snyder never ventured far from Portland after her diagnosis of Meniere's disease. During her life she painted over seventy portraits and many landscapes. In addition to Price she became friends with Charles Heaney. The three of them looked upon themselves as artistic soul mates. When Price died in 1950, Amanda Snyder inherited his work table, easel and cans of paint. Shown below is His Dear Old Paint Cans, her tributed to Price. Also included is one of her self-portraits. It's not surprising with such a close relationship with Snyder that Price would have met Jefferson Tester when Tester visited his sister here in Portland.

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