Janice Lowry papers, 1957-2009

A Finding Aid to the Janice Lowry Papers, 1957-2009, in the Archives of American Art, by Erin Kinhart and Jessica Byler

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Table of Contents:



Biographical Information

Janice Lowry (1946-2009) created paintings, collages, and assemblages in Arizona and California. She is known for her box creations of homemade frames filled with found objects that often questioned and commented on life, death, journeys, and rites of passages.

Lowry was born in 1946 in Phoenix, Arizona. She started writing diaries when she was 11, and, with the exception of a decade, continued journaling until 2007. She married Jan Gilbert in 1965 and had two sons, Brandon and Kevin. During this period Lowry also set up a studio and started showing her artwork. In 1973, the family moved to California. Shortly after, she began her long battle with depression, and she divorced Jan in 1976.

Remaining in California, Lowry attended Art Center College of Design where she earned a BFA with honors in 1979 and a MFA in painting in 1980. She married Jon Gothold in 1983, and had another son, Brent. Her work sold well in the 1980's, but after her studio was destroyed in an earthquake in 1987, she took a break from making art.

Janice Lowry's first solo show was at Art Space in 1980, and the gallery continued to showcase and sell her work for many years. She taught at Art Center, Cypress College, and Oakridge Private School. Among other shows, she was part of an exhibition about 9/11 at Legacy Arts Gallery in 2001. In 2007, she was named the region's "Best Visual Artist" by the Orange County Weekly. After several health issues, Janice Lowry died of liver cancer in 2009.

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Overview of the Collection

Scope and Contents

The papers of collagist and painter Janice Lowry measure 18.0 linear feet and date from 1957 to 2009. Lowry's career as an artist in Arizona and California is documented through biographical material, printed material, teaching files, and photographs. The bulk of the papers consist of six diaries; thirteen morning journals; 126 art journals which include both written text and artwork in the form of sketches, paintings, and collages; hand-made artist books; nine notebooks with sketches; and one sketchbook.

Biographical material includes artist statements, price lists, guest books, scattered correspondence, and exhibition, consignment, and sales records. Six diaries document Lowry's childhood from the age of 11 to 16. Thirteen morning journals date from 1998 to 2008 and are almost entirely stream of consciousness written text. In these journals Lowry records her daily life, thoughts, and dreams.

Janice Lowry's artwork is combined with her personal writings in three different sets of books, named and numbered by her - art journals, artist books, and notebooks. She kept the "art journals" for most of her adult life, averaging about four per year; some contain mainly written text, whereas others are mostly visual. There are 126 art journals found within her papers. They are filled with sketches depicting vacation spots, objects around the house, studies for works, and people. The art journals also include collages of photographs, ephemera such as ticket stubs and receipts, and other common household objects.

Artist books were handmade and titled by Lowry. They include comic book stories about her family, collage booklets, and children's books.

Lowry's notebooks contain many sketches and date primarily from Lowry's days as a student at Art Center College of Design. Three later notebooks also contain autobiographical essays about her life and family. There is one sketchbook from the 2000s.

Printed material includes newspaper clippings, magazines, press releases, posters, and gallery catalogs and guides. There are personal photographs of Janice Lowry as well as slides of her work. Teaching files contain class project, assignments, and syllabi.

Arrangement and Series Description

The collection is arranged as 7 series:

Subjects and Names

This collection is indexed in the online catalog of the Archives of American Art under the following index terms:

  • Art Center College of Design (Pasadena, Calif.). -- Students
  • Art--Study and teaching
  • Artists' books
  • Collages
  • Collagists--California
  • Diaries
  • Illustrated letters
  • Notebooks
  • Painters--California
  • Paintings
  • Photographs
  • Sketchbooks
  • Sketches
  • Visitors' books
  • Women artists--California

Provenance

Donated 2007 and 2009 by Janice Lowry and in 2014 by Jon Gothold, Lowry's widower and executor.

How the Collection was Processed

The collection was fully processed by Jessica Byler in 2011. A finding aid was prepared by Erin Kinhart and Jessica Byler also in 2011. Additional papers donated in 2014 were processed and the finding aid was updated by Erin Kinhart in 2016.


How to Use the Collection

Restrictions on Use

Use of original papers requires an appointment.

Ownership & Literary Rights

The Janice Lowry papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.

How to Cite this Collection

Janice Lowry papers, 1957-2009. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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Detailed Description and Container Inventory

Series 1: Biographical Material, circa 1964-2009
1.4 Linear feet; Boxes 1, 18

Biographical material includes numerous artist statements written by Lowry, four guest books from her exhibitions, price lists, art supply receipts, a passport, address book, papers and drawings from her children and grandchildren, and various drafts of her proposal for a journaling book. Also included is one folder of correspondence primarily with art galleries and universities and letters to her first husband Jan Gilbert. Additional documentation on her professional activities includes her business license, promotional graphics, scattered exhibition records, consignment and sales records, and mail order forms for her artwork. Also of note is an "Art Catalog" created by Lowry containing photographs and statements on her artistic process as well as a detailed resume and "professional profile."

Box Folder
1 1 Art Catalog, 1981
1 2 Art Supply Receipts, circa 1978-1984
1 3 Artist Statements
1 4-6 Calendars, 1985, 1992-1993, 1999-2007
(3 folders)
1 7 Christmas Cards, circa 1988-1989
1 8-9 Consignment and Sales Records, circa 1987-1993
(2 folders)
1 10 Correspondence, 1984-2007
1 11 Drawings by Children, undated
1 12 Exhibition Records, circa 1983-1985
1 13 Fabric Sew-it-yourself Doll, 1980
1 14 Guestbook, 1987
1 15 Guestbook, 1995
1 16 Guestbook, 2001
1 17 Guestbook, 2007
1 18 Letters to Jan Gilbert, circa 1964
1 19 Mileage Report, 1972-1975
1 20 "My Grandma" by Ashton Gilbert, 2009
1 21 Orders for Works by Lowry, circa 1979-1980
1 22 Passport, 1997
1 23 Price Lists and Artist Statements, undated
1 24 Proposal for Journaling Book, undated
Box Folder
18 1 Address Book, circa 1980s-2000s
18 2 Autobiographical Essays, circa 2000s
18 3 Business Card Portfolio, circa 2000s
18 4 Business License, 1995-2009
18 5 Fictitious Business Name Statement, 2008
18 6 Letters of Recommendation, 1981-1987
18 7 Letters Regarding "Family Tales," 2008-2009
18 8 Letters Regarding Journaling Book Publication, 2008
18 9 Miscellaneous Personal and Family Documents, 1977-2009
18 10 Project Invoices, 2000-2002
18 11 Promotional Graphics, circa 2000s
18 12-13 Resume and Personal Profile, 1980s-2008
18 14 Stamp, "Write What You Don't Want to Forget," undated
18 15 Studio Leases, 2000-2008

Series 2: Diaries, 1957-1962
6 folder; Box 2

Six diaries written by Janice Lowry as a child from the age of 11 to 16 include short, dated entries, mainly recording daily activities.

Diaries arranged chronologically.

Box Folder
2 1 Diary 1, 1957
2 2 Diary 2, 1958
2 3 Diary 3, 1958-1959
2 4 Diary 4, 1960-1961
2 5 Diary 5, 1961
2 6 Diary 6, 1962

Series 3: Morning Journals, 1998-2008
0.6 Linear feet; Box 2

Thirteen "Morning Journals" record Lowry's thoughts, dreams, and life sporadically from 1998 to 2008. The journals are almost entirely written text in spiral notebooks and are filled with stream of consciousness type writings. Some years she went through multiple journals, whereas other years she did not keep a journal in this style.

Morning journals were named and numbered by Janice Lowry in chronological order.

Box Folder
2 7 Morning Journal 1A, 1998-2008
2 8 Morning Journal 1, 1998
2 9 Morning Journal 2, 1998
2 10 Morning Journal 3, 1998-1999
2 11 Morning Journal 4, 1999
2 12 Morning Journal 6, 2000-2001
2 13 Morning Journal 5 and 7, 1999-2000, 2002
2 14 Morning Journal 8, 2002
2 15 Morning Journal, 2002
2 16 Morning Journal, 2007
2 17 Morning Journal, 2007-2008
2 18 Morning Journal, 2008

Series 4: Art Journals, Artist Books, Notebooks and Sketchbooks, circa 1973-2009
14.2 Linear feet; Box 3-15, 17-20, 22

Janice Lowry combined her visual artwork with her writings in three sets of books she named and numbered - art journals, artist books, notebooks, and one sketchbook. Her art journals contain both written text and visual imagery in the form of drawings and sketches, clippings, collages, paintings, her children's artwork, etc. Artist Handmade Books are somewhat more fully executed and titled pieces, containing written text or stories, sketches and drawings, collages, and other forms of imagery. There are notebooks containing sketches and notes primarily from art classes. Three additional notebooks contain autobiographical essays and there is one sketchbook.

The series is arranged as 3 subseries:

Titles of each set of "books" are Janice Lowry's.

4.1: Art Journals, circa 1973-2009

There are 126 "art journals" created by Janice Lowry between 1973 and 2009 and three abandoned journals. She kept journals for most of her adult life, averaging about four per year. They include written text and visual imagery in the form of sketches, paintings, and collage in widely varied mediums. She glued in some of her children's artwork, and let them draw directly in her journals. She added slips of loose papers with notes, phone numbers, studies, plans, diagrams, and pockets of loose papers, letters, photographs, and objects. Some pages are collaged with ephemera such as ticket stubs, pictures, newspaper clippings, receipts, appointment cards, IDs, comics, cards, maps, and bills. Inserted are many articles about crime, politics, and death, as well as newspaper adverts for art shows. She often included definitions, quotes, things she had recently learned, and notes for lesson plans. Other objects and materials were used in the artwork, such as fabric, graph paper, sewing patterns, measuring tape, string, stickers, glitter, tape, stamps, and pieces cut out of a dictionary. She also included dried flowers, butterfly wings, leaves, and seeds. Topics include travel, thoughts, lists, dreams, finances, critiques, correspondence, timelines, and her relationship with her mother. Lowry also created storyboard journal entries, combining small, square sketches with commentary.

Journals were named and numbered by Lowry and are arranged in chronological order.

Box Folder
3 1 Journal 1, undated
3 2 Journal 2, 1973-1974
3 3 Journal 3, 1976
3 4 Journal 4a, 1977
3 5 Journal 4, 1977
3 6 Journal 5, 1977
3 7 Journal 6, 1977
3 8 Journal 7, 1977
3 9 Journal 8, 1977
3 10 Journal 9, 1978-1979
3 11 Journal 10a, 1978
3 12 Journal 10, 1978
3 13 Journal 11, 1978
3 14 Journal 12, 1978
Box Folder
4 1 Journal 13, 1978
4 2 Journal 14, 1978
4 3 Journal 15, 1979
4 4 Journal 16, 1979
4 5 Journal 17, 1979
4 6 Journal 18, 1979
4 7 Journal 19, 1979
4 8 Journal 20, 1979
4 9 Journal 21, 1980
4 10 Journal 22, 1980
4 11 Journal 23, 1980
4 12 Journal 24, 1980
4 13 Journal 25, 1981
4 14 Journal 26, 1981
Box Folder
5 1 Journal 27, 1981
5 2 Journal 28, 1981
5 3 Journal 29, 1982
5 4 Journal 30, 1982
5 5 Journal 31, 1982
5 6 Journal 32, 1982
5 7 Journal 33, 1983
5 8 Journal 34, 1983
5 9 Journal 35, 1983
5 10 Journal 36, 1983-1984
5 11 Journal 37, 1984
5 12 Journal 38, 1984
Box Folder
6 1 Journal 39, 1984
6 2 Journal 40, 1984-1985
6 3 Journal 41, 1985
6 4 Journal 42, 1985
6 5 Journal 43, 1985
6 6 Journal 44, 1986
6 7 Journal 45, 1986
6 8 Journal 46, 1986
6 9 Journal 47, 1986-1987
6 10 Journal 48, 1987
6 11 Journal 49, 1987
Box Folder
7 1 Journal 50, 1987
7 2 Journal 51, 1988
7 3 Journal 52, 1988
7 4 Journal 53, 1988
7 5 Journal 54, 1988
7 6 Journal 55, 1988-1989
7 7 Journal 56, 1989
7 8 Journal 57, 1989
7 9 Journal 58, 1989
7 10 Journal 59, 1989
7 11 Journal 60, 1990
Box Folder
8 1 Journal 61, 1990
8 2 Journal 62, 1990
8 3 Journal 63, 1991
8 4 Journal 64, 1991
8 5 Journal 65, 1991
8 6 Journal 66, 1992
Box Folder
17 1 Journal 67, 1992
Box Folder
8 8 Journal 68, 1992-1993
8 9 Journal 69, 1993
8 10 Journal 70, 1993
8 11 Journal 71, 1993
Box Folder
9 1 Journal 72, 1994
Box Folder
17 2 Journal 73, 1994
17 3 Journal 74, 1994
17 4 Journal 75, 1995
Box Folder
9 2 Journal 76, 1995
9 3 Journal 77, 1995-1996
9 4 Journal 78, 1996
9 5 Journal 79, 1996-1997
9 6 Journal 80, 1997
9 7 Journal 81, 1997
9 8 Journal 82, 1997
9 9 Journal 83, 1998
9 10 Journal 84, 1998
Box Folder
10 1 Journal 85, 1998
10 2 Journal 86, 1999
10 3 Journal 87, 1999
10 4 Journal 88, 2000
10 5 Journal 89, 2000
10 6 Journal 90, 2000
10 7 Journal 91, 2001
10 8 Journal 92, 2001
10 9 Journal 93, 2001
Box Folder
11 1 Journal 94, 2001
11 2 Journal 95, 2002
11 3 Journal 96, 2002
11 4 Journal 97, 2002
11 5 Journal 98, undated
11 6 Journal 99, 2003
11 7 Journal 100, 2003
Box Folder
12 1 Journal 101, 2003
12 2 Journal 102, 2003
12 3 Journal 103, 2004
12 4 Journal 104, 2004
12 5 Journal 105, 2004
12 6 Journal 106, 2004
12 7 Journal 107, 2004
Box Folder
13 1 Journal 108, 2005
13 2 Journal 109, 2005
13 3 Journal 110, 2005
13 4 Journal 111, 2005
13 5 Journal 112, 2006
13 6 Journal 113, 2006
13 7 Journal 114, 2006
Box Folder
14 1 Journal 115, 2006
14 2 Journal 116, 2007
14 3 Journal 117, 2007
14 4 Journal 118, 2007
14 5 Journal 119, 2007
Box Folder
18 16 Journal 120, 2007
18 17 Journal 121, 2008
18 18 Journal 122, 2008
18 19 Journal 123, 2008
Box Folder
19 1 Journal 124, 2009
19 2 Journal 125, 2009
19 3 Journal 126, 2009
19 4 Abandoned Journal 97, 2002
19 5 Abandoned Journal 106, 2004
19 6 Abandoned Journal 110, 2005

4.2: Artist Books, circa 1978-2008

Janice Lowry wrote and illustrated the many handmade books found among her papers. These include comic book stories about her family, collage booklets, and children's books. Some are photocopied and bound. Both "The Cat and the Fiddle" and an untitled 1988 book combine the lyrics of a well-known song and photocopied and hand-colored magazine collages. A few of the books are comic books about her life, including a series called "Family Tales." Files include photocopied printed versions as well as some of the original artwork.

The artist books were named by Lowry and are arranged in chronological order.

Box Folder
14 6 Artist Book, 1978
14 7 "In The Night-Time," 1980
(3 copies)
14 8 Artist Book, 1980
14 9 "The Cat and the Fiddle: A Modern Romance," 1983
(2 copies)
14 10 Artist Book, 1983
14 11 "Elements of Swimming," 1983
(4 copies)
14 11 "Everything is Ducky in Norfolk," 1985
14 12 Artist Book, 1988
14 13 "Star Gazer," 1991
14 14 "Michael Lowry Memory Books," 2003
2 Copies (derivative objects)
14 15 "Family Tales, #1," "Family Tales, #2", and "I Shall Want,", 2006-2007
14 16 Artist Book, undated
Box Folder
19 7 "Dear Diary," Original Art, circa 2007
19 8 "Family Tales," Complete Printed Set, 2006-2008
19 9 "Family Tales" #1, Original Art, 2006
19 10 "Family Tales" #2, Original Art, circa 2007
19 11 "Family Tales" #3, Original Art, 2008
19 12 "Family Tales" #4, Original Art, circa 2008
19 13 "Family Tales" #5, Original Art, circa 2008
19 14-15 "Family Tales," Unfinished Artwork for #6-8, circa 2008
19 16 "Flashbulb Memories," circa 2007
19 17 "I Shall Want," Original Art, 2007
Box Folder
20 1-2 "Nuts and Bolts," circa 2000s
20 3 "Tattle Tales," "Deep Secrets," "Shifting," 2006
Box Folder
22 1 "Jurassic Journal," undated
22 2 Original Art for Large Format "Family Tales," circa 2008

4.3: Notebooks and Sketchbooks, 1976, 1979, 2002-2006

The notebooks in this series date mostly from Lowry's student days at the Art Center College of Design and date from 1976 to 1979. These early notebooks contain notes from her classes and sketches. There are also four notebooks containing autobiographical essays about her life and family and one sketchbook of figure drawings from the 2000s.

Box Folder
15 1-2 Art School Notebooks, 1976
(2 folders)
15 3-4 Art Center Notebooks, 1976
(2 folders)
15 5 Notebook, 1979
15 6 Notebook, 2004
Box Folder
20 4-6 Notebooks, Autobiographical Essays, 2002-2006
Box Folder
22 3 Sketchbook, undated

Series 5: Printed Material, 1974-2009
0.5 Linear feet; Box 15-16, 20

Printed materials include newspaper clippings, magazines, press releases, posters, and gallery catalogs and guides. The exhibition invitations are primarily for her shows, ranging from 1979 to 2009, but also include announcements for other artists.

Box Folder
15 7-8 Newspaper clippings, 1981-2007
(2 folders)
15 9 Press Releases, 1982-1989
Box Folder
16 1-2 Exhibition Invitations, 1979-2009
(2 folders)
16 3 Posters, 1984-1990
16 4 Exhibition Catalogs, 1983-2009
16 5 Gallery Guides, 1981-1989
16 6 Art Magazines, 1974-1989
16 7 Miscellaneous
Box Folder
20 7 Feature Articles, circa 2002-2009

Series 6: Photographs, 1965, circa 1980s-2000s
4 folder; Boxes 16, 20

Photographic material consists of both personal photographs of Janice Lowry as well as slides and digital prints of her works. One folder contains photographs from her wedding to Jan Gilbert in 1965. Most of the photographs are neither labeled nor dated.

Box Folder
16 8 Wedding Photographs, 1965
16 9 Miscellaneous Photographs, circa 1980s
16 10 Slides, circa 1990s
Box Folder
20 8 Photographs of Artwork, circa 2000s

Series 7: Teaching Files, circa 1989-2008
0.5 Linear feet; Boxes 20-21

Found here are Lowry's teaching files including project and assignment details, course outlines, and syllabi.

Box Folder
20 9 Book Making Class, circa 2008
20 10 CD Cover Assignment, 2000
20 11 Collage Materials, circa 2000
20 12 Color Assignment, circa 2000
20 13 Fundamentals of Design Course Outline, 2002
Box Folder
21 1 Journal Class, circa 2000-2007
21 2 Layout Assignment, circa 2000
21 3 Line Assignment, circa 2000
21 4 Logo Assignment, circa 1990s
21 5 Mandala Assignment, circa 2000
21 6 Old Illustration Assignments, circa 1989-1990s
21 7 Pop Quizzes, circa 1990s
21 8 Scratch Board Assignment, circa 2000
21 9 Shape Assignment, circa 2000
21 10 Sketchbook Assignment, circa 1990s-2004
21 11 Space Assignment, 2000-2001
21 12 Texture Assignment, circa 2001
21 13 Typography/Figure/Ground Assignment, circa 2000
21 14 Value Assignment, circa 2000