for my commercial modernism class, i have been researching Maynard Dixon, an illustrator who produced the majority of his work from 1910 through the 1940s. a lot of his beginning works were illustrations and paintings for advertisements, but later on he painted some fascinating landscapes and figures of the west that absolutely blow my mind.
for the time period that he was drawing and painting, his methods seem SO modern, it's unbelievable. i totally dig the graphic quality of all his stuff, and even the subject matter is really interesting. one of his childhood heroes was Frederic Remington, who was the best Western illustrator in the Golden Age of illustration. Dixon took most of his inspiration from him and from Charles Lummis, an editor he worked under at Land of Sunshine, who was a journalist and native american activist. Dixon created these gorgeous paintings of native americans and cowboys in order to express his pure love of the west.
what i also found really fascinating about Dixon was how he labeled his sketches. i began to notice this small kind of logo of a bird in a circle that appeared on most of his sketches (in the sketch below it is at the way bottom left).
i couldn't figure out what it meant, and it was only mentioned once in one of the books i was reading. i called the Thunderbird Foundation of the Arts (probably the location of the most art and information about Maynard Dixon) and asked a woman there about it. she told me he used the thunderbird as a kind of trademark for his work. the thunderbird was a legend of the native americans in the southwest and pacific west coast of this bird whose wings were so big they created the thunder when they flapped. this bird also controlled much of the weather, including rainfall. so it also had the power to produce a good or bad harvest. Perhaps Dixon used the mark as a symbol of power to add to his work, or maybe it was more of a tribute to the thunderbird to show his belief in the culture and constant admiration of its power. this has been a really great learning experience, and i'm glad i got to talk to someone about it first hand as well!
just for fun... a great new band im listening to, via Knox Road, a great blog to check out!