Sylvia Fein papers, 1936-2011

A Finding Aid to the Sylvia Fein Papers, 1936-2011, in the Archives of American Art, by Erin Kinhart

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Table of Contents:



Biographical Information

Sylvia Fein (1919- ) is a painter and author in Martinez, California. She is part of the Magic Realist Group of artists that originated at the University of Wisconsin.

Fein was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and from 1938 to 1942 she studied art at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. While there she became friends with fellow artists Marshall Glasier, John Wilde, Dudley Huppler, and Karl Priebe. In 1942 she married William Scheuber and briefly had a factory job in Milwaukee testing switches for naval planes. From 1944 to 1947 Fein lived and traveled throughout Mexico. Much of the work produced during this period was included in a solo exhibition of her paintings at the Perls Galleries in 1946. She and her husband then moved to northern California and had a daughter, Heidi. During the 1950s and 1960s, Fein continued to paint in her home studio.

In 1973 Fein decided to take a break from painting and published two books, Heidi's Horse (1976) and First Drawings: Genesis of Visual Thinking (1993). These works were greatly inspired by her friendship with art educator and researcher, Henry Shaefer-Simmern. In 2003 she resumed painting. She was featured in the group show, "With Friends: Six Magic Realists, 1940-1965" at the University of Wisconsin in 2005 and in a solo retrospective at the Bakersfield Art Museum in 2007. From 1970 to 2000 Fein was also active in the community of Pleasant Hill, California, as a member of several public services commissions.

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Overview of the Collection

Scope and Contents

The papers of painter and author Sylvia Fein measure 5.9 linear feet and date from 1936 to 2011. The papers primarily document her friendships with other artists from the Wisconsin-based Magic Realist group, including Dudley Huppler, John Wilde, Marshall Glasier, and Karl Priebe, as well as her career as a painter and her work on the books Heidi's Horse and First Drawings: Genesis of Visual Thinking. Documentation consists of scattered biographical material, extensive correspondence, project files, writings by Huppler and others, printed material, photographs, artwork by Wilde and Glasier, and scrapbooks.

Arrangement and Series Description

The collection is arranged as 8 series:

Subjects and Names

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

Subjects-Topical:

  • Authors--California
  • Authors--Wisconsin
  • Magic realism (Art)
  • Painters--California
  • Painters-Wisconsin--Madison
  • Women artists--California
  • Women artists--Wisconsin

Types of Materials:

  • Photographs
  • Scrapbooks

Names:

  • Glasier, Marshall, 1902-
  • Huppler, Dudley, 1917-1988
  • Priebe, Karl J., 1914-1976
  • Wilde, John, 1919-2006

Provenance

The collection was donated in 2011 by Sylvia Fein.

How the Collection was Processed

The collection was processed in 2012 by Erin Kinhart.


How to Use the Collection

Restrictions on Use

Use of original papers requires an appointment.

Ownership & Literary Rights

The Sylvia Fein 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

Sylvia Fein papers, 1936-2011. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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Detailed Description and Container Inventory

Series 1: Biographical Material, 1936-2010
(Box 1, 8; 10 folders)

Found here are scattered biographical documents including a guest book from an exhibition, Fein's high school yearbook, a chronology, draft documents and layouts for her website, and documents from presentation on Fein's life using kinesthetic modeling.

Box Folder
1 1 Chronology, 2008
1 2-3 Documentation for Sylvia Fein Website, circa 2008-2009
(2 folders)
1 4 Guest Book, 1965
1 5 Kinesthetic Modeling Presentation, circa 2000, 2004
(Oversized items housed in box 8)
1 6 Maxwell Galleries Consignments and Sales, 1962-1966
1 7 Web Search Print-outs, 2007-2010
1 8 Yearbook, 1936
Box
8 Kinesthetic Modeling Presentation, circa 2000, 2004
(Oversized items from box 1, folder 5)

Series 2: Correspondence, 1941-2011
(Box 1-3; 2.3 linear feet)

Correspondence, some illustrated, includes letters and postcards from friends and collegues Marshall Glasier, John and Shirley Wilde, Dudley Huppler, Karl Priebe, Helen Ashman, Lee Hoiby, Klaus Perls, and Henry Shaefer-Simmern among others. Most correspondence in this series is of a personal, rather than professional nature, and the bulk of these letters date from the 1990s-2000s. Of note are almost daily letters in the form of mail art from Fein's husband's oncologist, Randall Oyer. Researchers should note that additional correspondence is included within Series 8: Scrapbooks.

Letters have been arranged alphabetically by last name. Letters from individuals who had correspondence with Fein of four letters or less are found within the miscellaneous folders.

Box Folder
1 9-14 Sylvia Fein Letters to Family, 1960, 1965, 1968
(6 folders)
1 15 Ashman, Helen, 1942-1944
1 16-18 Cozzolino, Robert, 2001-2010
(3 folders)
1 19 Dadian, Arnold, 1944, 2008
1 20 Dissanayake, Ellen, 1997-2005
1 21 Dreyfus, John, 1997-2001
1 22 Duncan, Michael, 2006-2008
1 23 Ezell, Carol, 2008-2009
1 24 Gilmore, Bob, 1999
1 25-32 Glasier, Marshall, circa 1942-1963, 1974-1975
(8 folders)
1 33 Graber, Sheila, 2005-2011
1 34 Hoiby, Lee, 1952, 1969, circa 2002-2003
1 35-44 Huppler, Dudley, 1941-1973
(10 folders)
1 45 Huppler, Dudley, 1987
1 46-49 Huppler, Dudley - Undated Letters, circa 1942-1987
(4 folders)
1 50 Miller, Florence, circa 1970s
1 51 Mody, Zarin, circa 2000-2002
1 52 Neumeyer, Peter, circa 1963-1999
Box Folder
2 1-21 Oyer, Randall, 2006-2011
(21 folders)
2 22 Partch, Harry, 1951-1964
2 23 Perls Galleries, 1943-1949, 1956
2 24 Priebe, Karl, 1944-1975
2 25 Schaefer-Simmern, Henry and Gertrude, 1956-1973
2 26 Scheuber, Heidi, 1998
Box Folder
3 1 Vivas, Eliseo and Dorothy, circa 1957-1964
3 2 Whitnah, Kerwin, circa 1971-1998
3 3-4 Wilde, John, 1942-1966
(2 folders)
3 5-6 Wilde, John, 1991-2006
(2 folders)
3 7 Wilde, Shirley, circa 2007-2008
3 8 Wilson, Frank, circa 2000-2002
3 9 Winters-Montemayor, Elizabeth, 2007-2010
3 10 Miscellaneous, A-B, 1972-2004
3 11 Miscellaneous, C, 1987-2009
3 12 Miscellaneous, D, 1974, circa 2000-2003
3 13 Miscellaneous, F-G, 1955-2005
3 14 Miscellaneous, H-K, circa 1962-2004
3 15 Miscellaneous, L-M, circa 1964-2005
3 16 Miscellaneous, N-R, circa 1966-2003
3 17 Miscellaneous, S, circa 1956-2004
3 18 Miscellaneous, T-W, 1953-2001
3 19-21 Unidentified, First Names Only, circa 1964-2005
(3 folders)

Series 3: Project Files, 1970-2011
(Box 3-4, 8; 1.2 linear feet)

Found here are files maintained by Sylvia Fein for various projects. Files for her two book projects, Heidi's Horse (1976) and First Drawings: Genesis of Visual Thinking (1993), include extensive correspondence, permission requests, photographs of the writing and publication process, film proposals, and press clippings. Materials regarding both books are filed together. Also found are project files for Fein's participation in Pleasant Hill, California, public services. Included are records of her work on the Architectural Review Commission and her 1980 run for city council. Project files for the opening of the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Fron National Historical Park include photographs, correspondence, a biographical statement, and press materials.

This series also includes project files documenting Fein's retrospective "Wondrous Life: Paintings and Drawings by Sylvia Fein," at the Bakersfield Art Museum in 2007. Included are correspondence, exhibition photographs, planning documents, and the exhibition catalogs and announcements.

The series is arranged as 3 subseries:

3.1: Heidi's Horse and First Drawings, 1970-2011

Box Folder
3 22 Correspondence, "Looking for a Publisher," 1970-1974, 1985-1992
3 23-35 Correspondence, 1974-2011
(13 folders)
3 36 "Daily Log" Notebook, 1976-1977
3 37 Donata Elschenbroich Film Project, 2000-2005
3 38 Film Proposal, circa 1970s
3 39-41 Permission Requests and Photograph Orders, 1976-2001
(3 folders)
3 42 Photographs, 1972-1990s
3 43 Press Clippings, 1976-2009
Box Folder
4 1-5 Press Clippings, 1976-2009
(5 folders; oversized items housed in box 8)
Box
8 Oversized Press Clippings, 1976-2009
(Oversized items from box 4, folders 1-5)

3.2: Pleasant Hill Public Services, 1970-2008

Box Folder
4 6-9 Architectural Review Commission, 1970, 1981-2008
(4 folders)
4 10-11 City Council Election, 1980
(2 folders)
4 12 Fee Abitration Program, 1998-1999
4 13 Miscellaneous Records, 1979-circa 2001
4 14-16 Photographs, circa 1979-2000, 2002
(3 folders)

3.3: Rosie the Riveter National Historic Park, 2002-2010

Box Folder
4 17-20 Rosie the Riveter National Historic Park, 2002-2010
(4 folders)

3.4: "Wondrous Life: Paintings and Drawings by Sylvia Fein,", 2006-2008

Box Folder
4 21 Correspondence, 2007-2008
4 22 Photographs, circa 2007
4 23 Planning Documents, 2006-2007

Series 4: Writings by Others, circa 1940s-1994
(Box 4; 4 folders)

Found here is a dissertation on Henry Schaefer-Simmern and a draft outline written by Schaefer-Simmern. Also found are several short writings by Dudley Huppler.

Box Folder
4 25 Dissertation by Raymond C. Berta, 1994
4 26-27 Writings by Dudley Huppler, circa 1940s, 1987
(2 folders)
4 28 Chapter Outline from The Essence of Form by Henry Schaefer-Simmern, 1968

Series 5: Printed Material, 1941-2010
(Box 4-5; 0.7 linear feet)

Printed material consists of books, including two written by Sylvia Fein, magazines and news clippings documenting her activities, and a few exhibition catalog and announcements, primarily from her early career. Also found are files of printed material which Fein compiled to document the careers of her friends and fellow artists including Marshall Glasier, John Wilde, Dudley Huppler, and Karl Priebe. These files contain exhibition announcements, catalogs, and news clippings. Researchers should note that a large amount of printed material is also found within Series 8: Scrapbooks.

Box Folder
4 29 Book, Consciousness of Artistic Form by Henry Schaefer-Simmern, 2003
4 30 Book, First Drawings: Genesis of Visual Thinking by Sylvia Fein, 1993
4 31 Book, Heidi's Horse by Sylvia Fein, 1976
Box Folder
5 1 Book, The Lesson Book by Dudley Huppler, 1946
5 2-3 Exhibition Catalogs and Announcements, 1943-2005
(2 folders)
5 4 Map of Europe, circa 1960
5 5 Magazines, 1946, 2006
5 6 News Clippings, 1960-2004
5 7 Newsletter, The Echoboard, 1957-1960
5 8-10 Printed Material regarding Marshall Glasier, circa 1941-2008
(3 folders)
5 11 Printed Material regarding Dudley Huppler, 1944-2007
5 12-14 Printed Material regarding Harry Partch, circa 1952-2005
(3 folders)
5 15 Printed Material regarding Karl Priebe, 1944-1977
5 16 Printed Material regarding Henry Schaefer-Simmern, 1952-1977
5 17-19 Printed Material regarding John Wilde, circa 1948-2010
(3 folders)
5 20-21 Miscellaneous Printed Material, 1960-2009
(2 folders)

Series 6: Photographs, circa 1940-2000
(Box 5; 0.2 linear feet)

Found here are one photograph of Sylvia Fein with John Wilde and photocopies of photographs of Fein and her husband William Scheuber during World War II. The bulk of the photographs depict other artists including Dudley Huppler, Marshall Glasier, and Karl Priebe, as well as artwork by Marshall Glasier and John Wilde. Included within the photographs of Dudley Huppler are group photographs depicting Huppler with Gertrude Abercrombie, Karl Priebe, and John Wilde. Two portraits of Dudley Huppler were taken by George Platt Lynes and Carl Van Vechten. Researchers should note that additional photographs of Sylvia Fein are found within Series 8: Scrapbooks.

Box Folder
5 22 Sylvia Fein and William Scheuber (Photocopies), circa 1940-1946
5 23 Sylvia Fein and John Wilde, circa 1941
5 24-26 Dudley Huppler, circa 1945-1972
(3 folders)
5 27 Marshall Glasier, circa 1950s-1968
5 28-29 Marshall Glasier, Artwork, circa 1955-1968
(2 folders)
5 30 Marshall Glasier, Negatives, 1955, circa 1990s
5 31 Karl Priebe, circa 1940s, 1974
5 32 Henry Schaefer-Simmern, circa 1972
5 33 John Wilde, Artwork, 1967-2000

Series 7: Artwork, 1941-1947
(Box 5; 3 folders)

Included are pencil drawings by Marshall Glasier and John Wilde and one oil painting on board by John Wilde called The Raven and the Fox.

Box Folder
5 34 Drawings by Marshall Glasier, circa 1943-1947
5 35 Drawings by John Wilde, circa 1944
5 36 Painting by John Wilde, 1941

Series 8: Scrapbooks, circa 1940-2010
(Box 5-7; 0.8 linear feet)

Scrapbooks were created by Sylvia Fein to document her career and activities from 1940 to the present. Included are letters, newpaper clippings, exhibition catalogs and announcements, price lists for works of art, and photographs.

Scrapbook materials have been removed from binders and plastic binder sleeves and housed in archival folders. The original order of the documents has been maintained.

Box Folder
5 37-39 Scrapbook "1940-1945", circa 1940-1945
(3 folders)
5 40-41 Scrapbook "1945-1950", circa 1945-1950
(2 folders)
5 42-43 Scrapbook "1951-1960", circa 1950-1961
(2 folders)
Box Folder
6 1 Scrapbook "1951-1960", circa 1950-1961
6 2-5 Scrapbook "1961-1965", circa 1960-1965
(4 folders)
6 6-9 Scrapbook "1966-2000", circa 1966-2000
(4 folders)
6 10 Scrapbook "2001-2004", circa 2000-2004
Box Folder
7 1 Scrapbook "2001-2004", circa 2000-2004
7 2-4 Scrapbook "2004-2006", circa 2002-2006
(3 folders)
7 5-6 Scrapbook "2006-present", circa 2006-2010
(2 folders)