Oral history interview with Dorothy Jeakins, 1964 June 19

Jeakins, Dorothy

Size: Sound recording: 1 sound tape reel ; 5 in.
Transcript: 14 p.

Format: An unrelated interview of Frank Stevens conducted by B. Hoag is also on this tape.

Collection Summary: An interview of Dorothy Jeakins conducted 1964 June 19, by Betty Hoag for the Archives of American Art New Deal and the Arts Project.

Biographical/Historical Note: Printmaker, illustrator; California.

This interview conducted as part of the Archives of American Art's New Deal and the Arts project, which includes over 400 interviews of artists, administrators, historians, and others involved with the federal government's art programs and the activities of the Farm Security Administration in the 1930s and early 1940s.

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Interview Transcript

This transcript is in the public domain and may be used without permission. Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with Dorothy Jeakins, 1964 June 19, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Interview with Dorothy Jeakins
Conducted by Betty Hoag
June 19, 1964


Preface

The following oral history transcript is the result of a tape-recorded interview with Dorothy Jeakins on June 19, 1964. The interview was conducted by Betty Hoag for the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Interview

BETTY HOAG: This is Betty Lochrie Hoag interviewing Dorothy Jeakins, who was the youngest woman artist on the Projects in Los Angeles. She did lithographs, oils, many kinds of easel paintings and is today a freelance costume designer. Miss Jeakins, before we start talking about the Project (which is what the archives wants to know particularly) I wanted to ask you a little about your own life. Where were you born and when?

DOROTHY JEAKINS: I was born in San Diego in 1914, January 11th.

BETTY HOAG: And where did you receive your education?

DOROTHY JEAKINS: When I was very small, about four, I went to a Montessori School in San Diego.

BETTY HOAG: I didn’t know they had one then.

DOROTHY JEAKINS: It was one of the first ones in the United States. I learned to read and write before I was six, and to draw also. And when I was in kindergarten I made a drawing of President Wilson who had come to San Diego to speak at a war-bond rally, as I remember. Someone took me to see him and I made a drawing of him. They reproduced it in the newspaper. Someone showed me the newspaper, and I was astonished that it was good enough to (you know) be printed. That’s the first that I was aware that I had any drawing ability; I didn’t know that I had. I was unaware of it before that.

BETTY HOAG: Have you kept that?

DOROTHY JEAKINS: No, I don’t know where it is. I understand you could find it on microfilm in a library if you like, but it doesn’t matter; it’s just lost. Then I went to public school in Los Angeles from first grade through high school and when I was a senior at Fairfax High School here I was one of three persons given a State of California Scholarship at Otis Art Institute. There were two boys and myself. In the fall of that year I started at Otis as an art student, although I had been at Otis as a twelve-year-old in a Saturday children’s class.

BETTY HOAG: Is that where you met Mrs. Billings?

DOROTHY JEAKINS: Miss Billings, Lucy Billings, who had been an art teacher in the Pasadena school system and I feel she did more for my life at that age than anyone I had encountered. She really made me aware of graphics and color and all the riches of the world in poetry and writing, and other paintings. I was a student there for three years and then the depression got more severe and I found myself really unable to cope with either eating or being a student or buying paints or the other problems that came along. I had to apply for relief which was a requisite of qualifying for the Federal Art Projects at that time; although others, apparently the experienced artists, were taken in on merit. Those who were older and justified their place in the community as creative painters, you might say. However, I was untried, so to speak, and had to go through that process which was rather trying since I realized how little I had and how little I knew. I was put on the Federal Art Project after doing illustration work for the Los Angeles City Planning Commission and (I think) the Park Department, various curious jobs I was assigned to which needed illustrators. Then the Federal Art Project took me on and I painted for about a year, I believe, and then went into a division of lithography and print making. We had our own press and…

BETTY HOAG: As part of the project?

DOROTHY JEAKINS: Yes. That was under…

BETTY HOAG: Mr. Feitelson?

DOROTHY JEAKINS: No, it was under Stanton-Wright at that time. It was a leap forward for me and a chance to really work and draw for hours on end without pressures and anxiety and…

BETTY HOAG: Where did they keep the press and where did the artists work?

DOROTHY JEAKINS: The Federal Art Project was on 7th Street across from Westlake Park, in the upstairs of one of the buildings which is still there. It had several floors, if I remember, and we worked in various rooms. It was just in that one place as I recall.

BETTY HOAG: And were you able to work all day?

DOROTHY JEAKINS: Oh yes.

BETTY HOAG: Some of the artists were only required to turn in one painting a month, I understand?

DOROTHY JEAKINS: No, I would go there every day and work. I had a stone and learned to screen a stone. And we worked on zinc also.

BETTY HOAG: Who were the teacher at the time, do you remember?

DOROTHY JEAKINS: We didn’t have teacher, we didn’t need teachers. We did have a printer (whose name I can’t remember) who ran the press, which is a highly technical process. He did all the printing but we all stood by and helped to familiarize ourselves with it. We pulled our own proofs and so forth. Then I got myself of the Federal Art Project because I felt I shouldn’t be so dependent and should be out in the big world, not just accepting what was really a temporary measure to help people. I thought I should stir myself to help myself.

BETTY HOAG: About how long do you think had you been on it?

DOROTHY JEAKINS: Close to three years.

BETTY HOAG: And what did you do after that?

DOROTHY JEAKINS: After that I went out to seek my fortune and I had a terrible time. I did odd jobs commercially and anything I could do that involved drawing. I helped paint a mural in a department store; and I did little tiny “spot ads” for the newspaper; and I did book-plates; and I did portraits for people. I did anything to make a bit of money to eat.

BETTY HOAG: You were by yourself at that time?

DOROTHY JEAKINS: Yes, I was.

BETTY HOAG: Eventually, how did you get into costume illustration?

DOROTHY JEAKINS: Well, when I had been in high school I became enamored of the whole world of costume and past times and wanted to be part of it and part of theater. But I didn’t know what it was about; This was a world I had never been exposed to and knew nothing about. So one of my teachers (whose name was Frederick Monhoff, who gave a design course) tried very hard to make me a pupil of costume and theater. In the corner, off by myself, he gave me assignments and tried to cope with what I wanted to know. He would bring plays in and say, “Now, read the play and imagine designing for the play and pretend that you have someone asking you to do this.” I think the first play was Within the Gates by Shaun O’Casy and the second one was Four Saints in Three Acts. Oh, there was a Yates play and an O’Neill play. These were all imaginary assignments and I took them very seriously. So I began on an education in another direction which has continued to this day, and it fortunately has been my survival. I’ve been able to use my early training as an artist to function professionally in the theater and in motion pictures.

BETTY HOAG: Oh, isn’t that wonderful! I wondered if you had done any work with or for Mr. Wright at the time because that was when he had the Santa Monica Little Theater.

DOROTHY JEAKINS: No, I didn’t. I put my dreams away when I was on the Federal Art Project you might say, and simply picked them up later. It’s been a very slow accretion of experience for me, self-education principally.

BETTY HOAG: Well, it’s been increasingly moving, which is a very exciting thing. This has been something that certainly must have kept you very busy all these years because you also were married and raised two boys by yourself, I understand.

DOROTHY JEAKINS: Yes, I was married briefly to a very nice man who came from Vallejo and …

BETTY HOAG: What was his name, for the record?

DOROTHY JEAKINS: Raymond Dannenbaum originally. He changed his name to “Dane” after the war and went to his estate in Europe to live. He came from a third-generation California family, in the San Francisco Bay area. However, we weren’t married very long; the upheaval of the war really separated us, I think more than any other factor. I picked up the pieces of my life after that and found I had two very young children and my abilities had atrophied entirely; so I had to begin at the bottom again, as I had done before when I was younger.

BETTY HOAG: Did you begin with free-lance costume?

DOROTHY JEAKINS: Yes. I tried and suddenly skill came back, and hope came back, and I began to work at Magnin’s Store, and I have a job at a film studio. I worked at Walt Disney’s in the color department, and gradually one assignment led to another. All through these years I have kept on drawing, however, and I feel that my work should be as beautiful as possible.

BETTY HOAG: It certainly is, from what I’ve seen already!

DOROTHY JEAKINS: Nothing seems uninvested to me. All that we take in while young, or on the way, comes out again in terms of intake-output.

BETTY HOAG: I was interested to hear that you’d done work for the studios because at the same time you were at Otis Art Institute you went to the Art Students’ League where Mr. Wright was teaching. In fact, you were one of the very first women who was ever allowed in the Los Angeles Art Students’ League. Many of the students that I’ve talked to have told me that they had friends who were in different departments (especially at Paramount, apparently) at that time who got into commercial work which, after the Federal Art Project was over, secured them permanent work of the commercial kind.

DOROTHY JEAKINS: Right, exactly.

BETTY HOAG: Could you tell me about some of those people because so few people were there and remember about them, and it is interesting.

DOROTHY JEAKINS: The time that I was there was toward the end of it. It had been active for a number of years, I guess more or less an all-male set-up. I was there in ’32, ’33, ‘34, ‘35. Periodically I would in the evening and draw from the model. Everyone contributed to pay the model fee and worked rather hard and quietly for two or three hours at night. Jimmy Redmond who was the director, painted in the studio in the daytime and also slept there. Then we’d pass the tin pie pan … Benji would pass this…

BETTY HOAG: Benji Okubo?

DOROTHY JEAKINS: Yes, he’d collect nickels and dimes and go out to a coffee shop and pick up the stale donuts and unsold pies for half-price and come back. Coffeee would be made in a big old kettle and everybody would talk and have a snack, and then people would drift off into the night. Sometimes at midnight, I was young and shy and very thrilled to be part of the talk; just to listen, really; and to hear Wright speak on one of his returns from Europe. He gave some marvelous lectures on Oriental art and esthetics, which brought many people on those nights when he spoke. It used to be terribly crowded, people standing up trying to hear.

BETTY HOAG: These were the Saturday nights or Monday nights –whenever it was?

DOROTHY JEAKINS: I think so, yes, I think so. And most of the time it was just quiet, really uninstructed drawing class.

BETTY HOAG: Before we went on the tape you were saying that you felt Mr. Wright had been such a tremendous influence on all of the artists because of his Oriental painting…

DOROTHY JEAKINS: Oh, good lord, yes! He was a prophet ahead of his time, I think, sensing and foreseeing the push or Orientalism on this coast which has been very strong. It has gone on across the United States in decoration and color sense and had an effect, I think, on the arts to a degree.

BETTY HOAG: What about the effect of the European painters at the time? Mr. Wright, of course, had been to Paris and worked and I believe Morgan Russell visited while you were there.

DOROTHY JEAKINS: That’s right. Again I have to apologize for having been so young, but my recollection is that there was a kind of uniquely West Coast school of painting then.

BETTY HOAG: Really, already established?

DOROTHY JEAKINS: Yes, with a very original current in it. In San Francisco and down here. Not just the sentimental, realistic landscape painting – you know, mauve desserts and green eucalyptus trees, but a really unique strain of expression in art here; and in print making, and in printing, and certainly in architecture, lithography, and in graphics. It’s a little hard to say. I think possibly the circle around Stanton was the strongest influence in the group shows at that time.

BETTY HOAG: Had he an influence on the photographers? And would you tell me again the names of the ones you mentioned who were active here then?

DOROTHY JEAKINS: Well, principally Edward Weston, who was on the Art Project at that time and who, even then, was revered and somewhat famous, a man who was really deeply-loved by everyone around him.

BETTY HOAG: His son was about your age, wasn’t he?

DOROTHY JEAKINS: Yes, Bret was also working with him and his other boys, Cole and Neal and I can’t remember the name of the oldest son. Anyway Ansel Adams was working up North and Imogene Cunningham. They were the so-called “giants” at that time, in their generation. Edward worked in Carmel and down here also. But there was much moving back and forth. In print making Paul Landacre, Arthur Millier, Lucy Billings (who I mentioned was my teacher), and Conrad Buff – persons of this level.

BETTY HOAG: They were all really established artists at that time?

DOROTHY JEAKINS: Oh yes, yes. Millard Sheets was very young and showing all the time, marvelous exhibitions of juicy wet California watercolors; every six months he’d have a show; very prolific. Stanton [Wright] would show quite frequently. Benji (who was my teacher and had been Stanton’s pupil) worked as a janitor and as a gardener, and painted in his free time, and took me on as a pupil “in the corner.” I learned a great deal from him – literally through Stanton, but also through his own sense of Oriental esthetics, although he was a Cezanne scholar.

BETTY HOAG: Oh, he was!

DOROTHY JEAKINS: Benji was. Cezanne’s painting principles were very strong to him and he was very verbal about them. El Greco also and Poussin… these were persons whose painting we would analyze the last hour of the day, take apart and reconstruct, structurally analyze. I learned a great deal about composition this way. I owe Benji a great deal, more than anyone else, I think, due to his patience and his scholarship and his talent.

BETTY HOAG: He must have been a very fine person to take on this little girl! I wish you would tell the tape (as you told me) about how you went down to these classes; I think it is quite interesting.

DOROTHY JEAKINS: Oh, well, I was poor when I was young, and grew up somehow, I’m sorry to say without supervision. I had a great deal of free time to myself. I used to run around Los Angeles on street cars or walk cast distances to get to the public library to take a book out or just to be alone and read and look at art books. The first year at Otis I only had the scholarship, I had no support from my father (who had left several years before); and I was unable to accept the scholarship unless I worked as a servant after school and weekends; and I did this. I moved in with a family and functioned in this way. When they could, after the dishes were done, they would let me have the evenings to myself. So I would walk about ten blocks to the end of the bus line; get on the bus; go to downtown Lot Angeles at the other end of the bus; get off; walk about seven blocks through a part of the downtown area which was really rather sinister and dark and full of winos and bumps and old men. I was terrified , and I would scuttle along, walking as fast as I could as though I knew where I was going, and just make it up the stairs and into the class—usually late but with time enough to be able to draw for a couple of hours and to be part of this world which seemed to have let me in the door. Then when it was over, once in a while someone would walk me to the bus because it was by then close to midnight. That was more or less ’31, ’32. Then the extreme fatigue of trying to do dishes and mind the baby and go to school began to be very telling. The director of the school called me in one day and asked me why I was going out under the trees to sleep and rest. And I had to tell him it was because I was so exhausted. So he said he would try to solve something. He went to a woman here in Los Angeles who arranged a place for me to live at the Three Arts Club which was active then. They gave me a little room and my meals, which were delicious; and I had all care and anxiety taken away from me for a while and was able to go to school (which was quite a long walk in another direction). And an arrangement was made with Harry Chandler, who was the publisher of the Los Angeles Times, to give me thirty dollars every month for art supplies and pocket money. I was to have been given this anonymously but I learned a year or so later that it was from him because his father-in-law had founded the Otis Art School, and he felt very attached to it: any worthy student he was eager to help. And that helped me along through that period. However when the Art School scholarship was over I was again out in the depression without any means of support. And that’s how things led to the Federal Art Project. I was then 19 and 20. It was a series of economic pressures which I survived.

BETTY HOAG: Well, the Project was certainly one of the things that was very beneficial to you from an “eating” standpoint.

DOROTHY JEAKINS: Eating and productivity. It was thrilling to be able to sit and draw. Stanton, I remember, came up to me one day and said, “Damn it, stop looking out the window and dreaming about the trees!” He said, “Draw the trees. Draw! Put it on paper! Get to work!!” It was what I needed. He made me work; I think he was the first person who treated me as an adult and with this kind of discipline toward application and objectivity.

BETTY HOAG: He must have been a very fine teacher.

DOROTHY JEAKINS: He wasn’t a teacher as much as a force; and I think he is a force to this day. He breathes this meaning, this significance, I think. He is a man who influences everyone around him, and always has, I guess. But that’s what he did for me in particular then – gave me a kind of focus on the problem at hand, which was to turn out a good lithograph.

BETTY HOAG: What other women were in the school when you were there?

DOROTHY JEAKINS: At Otis?

BETTY HOAG: No, at the Art Students’ League.

DOROTHY JEAKINS: A friend named Marion Blanchard used to go with me at times.

BETTY HOAG: Was she part of the Project?

DOROTHY JEAKINS: No, she hadn’t been. She just was a dear friend. We are friends to this day. I just don’t remember who else was there. Many men…

BETTY HOAG: I wondered if there were many of them who had been at the League who later were on the Federal Arts Project. I’ve been trying to trace influences of the men who were teaching at the League on the work done for the Project.

DOROTHY JEAKINS: I couldn’t answer that. Others will have to tell you. You must interview Benji Okubo.

BETTY HOAG: Oh I certainly will. I’m happy to know where he is now. His work was not at all like Hideo Date’s then, was it?

DOROTHY JEAKINS: A little, yes it was. But Benji worked in oils.

BETTY HOAG: I see.

DOROTHY JEAKINS: In a technique which was not unlike Wright’s at the time, but which was intensely classic; the use of paint and glazes and undercoating and a real knowledge and appreciation of pigment and chemistry of paint. In other words, there was a craftsmanship about him that Wright always insisted upon and which was transferred to his students and those around him, of the craft of painting, the craft of squeezing a tube of paint, the craft of cleaning a brush and preparing the canvas.

BETTY HOAG: You must have been in the Project at the time that Mr. Wright left and Mr. Feitelson took over and organized the groups with heads of departments, for instance, of easel painting and graphics…

DOROTHY JEAKINS: I think I left about then; I think so.

BETTY HOAG: You mentioned having done some mural work after you left the Project. Had you done any on it at all? Mural work was rather new at that time.

DOROTHY JEAKINS: No, not particularly, no. Actually I have been most engrossed all my life in drawing and in fine drawing. And I draw, that’s my expression.

BETTY HOAG: There are some of the people who are dead now so I’m asking everyone I can about them for their memories, since nothing was written about them at the time. For instance, did you know Ben Berlin?

DOROTHY JEAKINS: No, I didn’t. I knew who he was, but didn’t know him.

BETTY HOAG: Or Durstin?

DOROTHY JEAKINS: No, no.

BETTY HOAG: Or Hugo Ballin?

DOROTHY JEAKINS: No, no. I knew their work.

BETTY HOAG: Lucien Labaudt?

DOROTHY JEAKINS: No.

BETTY HOAG: Rico Lebrun you said you knew.

DOROTHY JEAKINS: Yes, bless his heart. I met Rico and Constance, his wife, through Bill Brice, the painter, and never had a dearer friend than this man. It was through Rico that I was recommended for a Guggenheim two years ago; through his insistence and recommendation I was given one, which was one of the other most wonderful things that ever happened to me and allowed me to study in the Orient for a year.

BETTY HOAG: Did you study costume?

DOROTHY JEAKINS: Yes, classic Japanese theatre costume, not costume. Rico wasn’t a teacher, he was a beloved friend.

BETTY HOAG: Had he also been your teacher?

DOROTHY JEAKINS: No, no. I was not a pupil.

[note: Mr. Lebrun had passed away only a few days before this interview. I regretted having asked about him – especially since he was not on the Project. He was one of the great forces in California art and very important in influence here. Miss Jeakins had some of his paintings in her home, of course.

BETTY HOAG: Did you know Lucile Lloyd?

DOROTHY JEAKINS: No.

BETTY HOAG: I may as well finish all of these. Knud Merrild?

DOROTHY JEAKINS: I knew his work. No, I didn’t know him.

BETTY HOAG: You mentioned Jimmy Redmond…

DOROTHY JEAKINS: Jimmy, yes. A lovely man, and that’s all I can say; how dear he was, and how he worked, what he looked like; I remember everything about him. I wasn’t his pupil either.

BETTY HOAG: Mr. Wright must have thought highly of him…

DOROTHY JEAKINS: Oh, yes.

BETTY HOAG: …sending him out to Montana with Mr. Stevens for the Project.

DOROTHY JEAKINS: Yes, that’s right.

BETTY HOAG: You said that you had mostly been interested in drawing and making lithographs. I know that the catalogues in Los Angeles County Art Museum for 1939 had a whole group of your lithographs. Then Frontiers of American Art, published about the same time, had two of the same ones. One of them was called Tejon Hills.

DOROTHY JEAKINS: Tejon.

BETTY HOAG: I looked it up on the map and…

DOROTHY JEAKINS: At the Tejon Ranch.

BETTY HOAG: Oh, it is down at Palos Verdes?

DOROTHY JEAKINS: No, Tejon is 90 miles north or here on the way to Bakersfield.

BETTY HOAG: Well, did you live there, because there are several of these prints that have that name?

DOROTHY JEAKINS: No, it was a coincidence that when I was in Otis Art Institute I was taken up there by an elderly couple, and the caretaker and his wife were distant cousins of Harry Chandler; so again because of the art school, they invited me back as a guest. And for about a three or four year period I was always welcome there. I’d go on the Greyhound Bus and get off at the gate, and a cow-puncher would pick me up in a truck. I could spend three or four days or a week all alone there. I did a lot of drawing and walking and dreaming, and some of my good drawings at that time were done up there, landscapes and trees and buildings and so on.

BETTY HOAG: I hope you still have some of those. I’d like to see them.

DOROTHY JEAKINS: I may.

BETTY HOAG: Good. Also there was one of your oils in the show at the Museum called White Pitcher…

DOROTHY JEAKINS: Oh, really? I had forgotten about that. Had forgotten completely.

BETTY HOAG: It would be strange if you did remember the names of all of them! I wondered if you can tell me anything more about the Project that I haven’t asked you? Can you think of anything that would be interesting for the tape?

DOROTHY JEAKINS: No, except that when I went to Japan I took in boxes all the papers that I had had which I had not read, meaning to weed through them. When I was in the hospital in Japan I had this great collection of documents on my bed, and I was going through each one -- all that monthly, weekly records of time, and so on. The Federal Art Project material was all intact. I may even still have them.

BETTY HOAG: Oh, good!

DOROTHY JEAKINS: Well, I don’t know if I’ve thrown them out since, but I may not have. It brought a great deal back to me. Being 19, and being 20, and being shy is a terrible handicap.

BETTY HOAG: Much of it passed over your head?

DOROTHY JEAKINS: You are not in the inner-circle of older people. You are there, but you are on the outside in a way, I don’t know. I guess I was living from day-to-day when I was that age, trying to survive, glad to be alive.

BETTY HOAG: In general, don’t you think that the project did a wonderful thing for the arts too?

DOROTHY JEAKINS: Oh, my God yes! Oh absolutely! I was so thrilled to be included. I can’t tell you. Because good painters were on it, the best in Los Angeles…

BETTY HOAG: Men you never would have had a chance to study with… or know?

DOROTHY JEAKINS: …Or be near. Exactly! It was enormous. And the feeling about Roosevelt in those days, and what was happening to the country, was terribly exciting. And it was exciting to be poor. I have walked many a mile in Los Angeles to save a .05 cent car-fare expense. I had one pair of shoes which were tennis shoes; I used to scrub them and wash them once a week so I’d have clean shoes. Everything was dear in those days. We could eat for 25 cents in Chinatown.

BETTY HOAG: But everyone was in it together; there was something stimulating about that.

DOROTHY JEAKINS: Well, my friends seem to be. We weren’t bums, or drifters, bohemians, or beatniks. We were there. We were Californians, I think most of all. Many of my friends were of the Japanese group. And Tyrus Wong, who was Chinese, was the same age. His father had been a coolie from Canton, South China. He’d come as a child, on a quota; and he lived in a slum in downtown Los Angeles; and never had enough to eat. Neither did I. But we’d put our dimes together, and laugh a little, share our meals, all of us, Date and Benji and a painter names Ito and the son of a Japanese actor, Sesu Hikawa was there. We used to play Japanese card games on our lunch-break at noon, in the garden, and talk and… I did a great deal of listening, I’m sure, because I was that age. It was thrilling in a dreamy kind of way. We weren’t bums…

BETTY HOAG: The odd names make me wonder if you saw anything of the eccentric Sadakichi Hartman when he talked at the League or…?

DOROTHY JEAKINS: I saw him once or twice and that was all. He was somewhat legendary and Enjar Hansen had done a wonderful portrait of him which is quite famous.

BETTY HOAG: And then Stoyana one, who was around and I think had been on the Project, and they say he was very much like Sadakichi. [note: so far I have no proof that he was on the Project, however!]

DOROTHY JEAKINS: Stoyana?

BETTY HOAG: Yes. He was a Magyar and wore his hair in a Beetle hair cut, as they call it today. He was at the League sometimes.

DOROTHY JEAKINS: I don’t remember him. Maybe he was there before I was. Foujita [well-known French artist] wore his hair that way too. Benji did too, a bit; Benji looked like an Apache – he looked a little bit terrifying!

BETTY HOAG: I’ve been interviewing Boris Deutsch. Did you know him at this time?

DOROTHY JEAKINS: Knew his work.

BETTY HOAG: It seems to me it was very strongly influenced by his German training although he…

DOROTHY JEAKINS: A beautiful artist…

BETTY HOAG: Yes, very fine. He is still painting wonderful things. Here are some more names. Did you know Mr. Biberman?

DOROTHY JEAKINS: No, I didn’t know him. I know who he is, but I didn’t know him.

BETTY HOAG: There were so many artists around at that time.

DOROTHY JEAKINS: Yes, but everyone went to exhibitions, and everybody talked about them, and we all entered work in jury shows, and sometimes were accepted, and sometimes had small exhibitions of our own, or little group shows. It was a life to live. I felt like I was part of something: I knew I was a fledgling, but nevertheless I felt I was part of an art world which I’ve lost a feeling of connectiveness about, as I’ve grown older.

BETTY HOAG: Did the people in the different groups stay to themselves in the Project? For instance, the people working on the lithographs?

DOROTHY JEAKINS: I don’t remember. We did a lot of laughing, and we’d draw each other at times and there was a certain comradery. And the persons who were cross were cross; and the persons who were kind were kind; and the persons who were happy and funny were that way, as it is in any cross-section of any group of people.

BETTY HOAG: Do you remember much about the exhibits that they had of their work?

DOROTHY JEAKINS: Not very much.

BETTY HOAG: …how the public got to see them?

DOROTHY JEAKINS: No, I don’t remember. I know I did a good many oils and I haven’t the vaguest idea where they went. They were handed in, still lifes, most of them.

BETTY HOAG: Of course being property of the government they probably went to schools and other public buildings.

DOROTHY JEAKINS: Many went to Washington, I understand. A lot of time has past, too… And my memory isn’t too sharp.

BETTY HOAG: I think it is very sharp considering the time span! I want to thank you so much for the interview. I’ve really enjoyed talking to you. Thank you.

DOROTHY JEAKINS: It was a pleasure for me also.


END OF INTERVIEW


This transcript is in the public domain and may be used without permission. Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with Dorothy Jeakins, 1964 June 19, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.