Friday, May 27, 2016

Arty Farty Friday ~ Jessie Arms Botke

Born: May 27, 1883, Chicago, Illinois. Died: October 2, 1971, Ventura, California.
Born to English parents in Chicago in 1883, Jessie Arms Botke spent much of her free time as a child sketching and painting. At the age of fourteen, she took art classes at the School of Art Institute of Chicago. When she graduated from high school, she enrolled as a full-time student at the Institute. During her summer vacations she participated in intensive painting workshops in Michigan and Maine, which led to her first exhibition at the Art Institute's American Annual in 1904. After school, Botke worked in wall decoration and book illustration and refined her skills as a decorative artist. Inspired by an exhibition of friezes, decorations, and tapestries from Herter Looms of New York, Botke moved there in 1911 and immersed herself in the city's artistic climate. Several years later, she was employed at Herter Looms where she worked on tapestry design, painted panels and friezes, and began to specialize in painting birds.

In 1914, Jessie Hazel Arms met design artist Cornelius Botke in Chicago, and they married a year later. Together, the Botkes worked as artists in Chicago, San Francisco, and Carmel, CA, and they traveled often to New York City and Europe. They both worked on major art commissions and held their largest joint exhibition in 1942 at the Ebell Club, a conservative club for the advancement of women and culture. When Jessie's eyesight began to fail in 1961, she continued painting small watercolors until surgery and contact lenses restored her vision and she resumed painting full-time. A stroke in 1967 destroyed her ability to paint, and she died four years later at the age of 88.

"The indomitable Jessie Botke was one of the most celebrated decorative painters of the twentieth century. From her early plein-air landscapes to her decorative friezes and imaginary scenes, she arrived at a richly intricate mature style in the 1930s. Working in an era when many women artists were forced to abdicate their careers, Botke successfully integrated her painting with her personal and public life. That her work was accepted in the teens and twenties, and yet remained relevant in the sixties, is a testament to her staying power and the sheer beauty of her paintings." (Patricia Trenton and Deborah Epstein Solon; Birds, Boughs and Blossoms: Jessie Arms Botke (1883-1971); Williams A. Karges Fine Art, Spring 1995)

 Jessie and Cornelius Botke

Some of the artist's many bird paintings are shown in this video; dozens more can be seen via Google Image:

Her bird paintings are beautiful, but I also like her imaginative landscapes:

 The Pool
 An Idle Afternoon


Born on 27 May 1883 in Chicago, Illinois. Time of birth unknown - chart set for 12 noon.

The artist had planets concentrated in Earth and Air signs, with just Mars in Aries (Fire) and Jupiter in Cancer (Water) as balance. I suppose Earth and Air elements reflect her choice of subjects for her artwork: birds, many being of a species who don't spend all (or any of) their time in full flight.

Time of birth isn't known, but Moon would have been somewhere in Aquarius, and probably in trine to one or other of the Gemini planets.

There's a nice helpful sextile from Venus, planet of the arts, in its own sign of rulership Taurus, to Jupiter in, a little sentimentality, from Cancer, in the style of presentation of her subject matter; aalong with potential for Jupiterian wide distribution/appreciation.


mike said...

The woman had an interesting natal chart. Her final dispositors are Mercury, Venus, and Mars, all in their rulerships, spanning Aries, Taurus, and Gemini...the personal planets spread-out. Mercury is the only planet in retrograde, taking her mental acuity inward, along with her ego (Sun, ruled by Mercury). Her paintings, though most are realistic, some impressionist, have a dreamy quality that I would attribute to her Uranus-Neptune trine, with Mercury Rx square Uranus. I've been fascinated with the planetary cluster that occurred in the late 1800s, with the outer planets having conjunctions, starting new long-term cycles at that time. Her natal Saturn is just past conjunction with Pluto.

Having Mercury, Venus, and Mars, all in their rulerships is a rare, but special gift. This excerpt from one of her bios demonstrates her expression of these:
"A review of Botke’s life and artistic accomplishments reveals the portrait of a hardworking artist, irreverent in many respects, yet close to her Christian Science Church and its message – that we are 'entitled to express energy, vitality, and joy.' She was forever prodding, pushing, and exploring in her attempt to gain full nourishment from life itself. Botke’s agenda constantly overflowed with her own projects and ideas, although she sought and provoked the thoughts of those around her. Apparently she required little sleep and seemed to be nourished and refreshed by her work – painting six days a week, sketching on Sundays, as well as picking,pruning, pickling, canning, reading current novels, traveling, and writing weekly to her family."

She must have been a delight to have known as a friend. I certainly like her work, but I don't know how she was not known to me before your post! A lot of her life was in Ventura, CA, and the surrounding area, my previous address. Can you imagine having an entire wall like the one you show to gaze upon every day, or one of her magnificent tapestries?!

Twilight said...

mike ~ Thanks for these additions - they help to flesh her out a little more.

Maybe she escaped your notice, when living in California, because the then arty community considered her style too old fashioned, too realist, not avant-garde enough to warrant their attention, writings and consequent publicity.

She did some beautiful work, for sure.

mike (again) said...

Off - I hope the weather is being kind to you. I talked with my sister in KS last night and the half-mile-wide tornado that touched down was very near her town.

An interesting read...the progeny of Bernie's effort:
"If you thought one Bernie Sanders was good, how about 100 of him?"

Twilight said...

mike (again) ~ I read about the Kansas huge tornado - yes - hope your sisters stay safe! We've had storms most days - actually most nights/early mornings, so far, with a lot of rain, thunder, lightning but nothing serious as yet, apart from one tornado warning which, as it turned out, didn't happen. More to come over the weekend I think. the stormy season has started later than usual this year due to an unusual cold snap in the spring. It's so humid just now - I hate it!

Nice article, thanks for link - let's hop that is what will happen! :-)