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Dorr Bothwell papers, 1900-2006

Dorr Bothwell papers, 1900-2006

Bothwell, Dorr Hodgson, 1902-2000

Muralist, Painter, Printmaker

Collection Information

Size: 10.6 linear feet

Summary: The papers of California painter, printmaker, and art instructor, Dorr Bothwell, date from 1900-2006, and measure 10.1 linear feet. Found within the papers are biographical material, correspondence, personal business records, notes and writings, diaries, art work and sketchbooks, scrapbooks, printed material, and photographs.

Biographical/Historical Note

Dorr Bothwell (1902-2000) was a painter and printmaker in Joshua Tree, Calif.


Donated 1978 by Dorr Bothwell and 2002-2012 by the Dorr Bothwell Trust via Arnold Borley and Marlys Mayfield, Trustees.

A Finding Aid to the Dorr Bothwell Papers,
, in the Archives of American Art
Finding aid prepared by Jean Fitzgerald
Biographical Note
Dorr Bothwell (1902-2000) worked primarily in California as a painter, printmaker, and art instructor.
Doris Bothwell was born on May 3, 1902 in San Francisco, and later changed her first name to Dorr in order to more easily enter the art business. Bothwell began her art studies in 1916 with her parents' friend Anna Valentien, a student of Rodin. Between 1921 and 1922, she studied at the California School of Fine Art, and continued her studies at the University of Oregon at Eugene. After attending the Rudolph Schaeffer School of Design in 1924, she established her own studio in San Francisco from 1924 to 1927. Also during this time Bothwell, with eight other artists opened the Modern Gallery on Montgomery Street, mounting her first solo exhibition there in 1927.
Between 1928 and 1929, Bothwell traveled to American Samoa, where she created paintings and drawings, and documented tapa (barkcloth) drawings for the Bishop Museum of Honolulu. She then spent a year of study in Europe, returning to San Diego, California in 1931 and marrying sculptor Donal Hord. Four years later, they divorced and she moved to Los Angeles where she worked for the pottery manufacturer Gladding McBean, joined the post-surrealist group around Lorser Feitelson and Helen Lundeberg and opened the Bothwell-Cooke Gallery.
Between 1936 and 1939, Bothwell worked in the mural division of the Federal Arts Project of Los Angeles, and learned the art of serigraph printing. She designed dioramas and mechanized exhibitions for the Los Angeles County Museum. In 1940 she also created murals in the Manning Coffee Restaurant in San Francisco.
After teaching color and design at the California School of Fine Art in San Francisco from 1944 to 1948, Bothwell was awarded the Abraham Rosenberg Traveling Scholarship that financed study in Paris from 1949 to the fall of 1951. In 1952 she taught textile design for mass production at the Parsons School of Design in New York City.
Returning to San Francisco, Bothwell taught again at the California School of Fine Art from 1953 to 1958, and at the San Francisco Art Institute from 1959 to 1960. From 1960 to 1961 she took a sabbatical in England and France, creating paintings for an exhibition. In 1962 she was asked to teach at the new Mendocino Art Center and she taught there until 1983. She was also asked by Ansel Adams to teach design and composition for photographers at his Yosemite Workshop summer sessions, which she did from 1964 to 1977.
From 1966 to 1967, Bothwell documented indigo dying techniques, strip weaving, and pottery in Western Nigeria and Tunisia. In 1968, she published her book, co-authored with Marlys Frey,
NOTAN The Principle of Dark-Light Design
. The book was reissued in 1991. Bothwell continued her travels from 1970 to 1971, when she studied 12th century enamels in England, France, and Holland, and conducted a symposium, "Notan Design," for the London Educational Authority. In 1974, she traveled to Bali, Java, and Sumatra, making a slide documentary on batik, woodcarving, and folk design.
In 1977 Bothwell moved to Joshua Tree, California, from Mendocino in Northern California, but moved back and forth between the two studio/residences until 1992 when she moved to her last residence on the desert at Apache Junction, Arizona. From 1979 to 1980, she taught composition at the Victor School of Photography in Colorado and a design course at the Women's Art Guild in Kauai, Hawaii. Following a tour of China with a watercolor artists' group in 1982, Bothwell conducted workshops at the Mendocino Art Center. In 1985, she traveled to Japan.
Dorr Bothwell died on September 24, 2000 in Fort Bragg, California.
The collection is arranged as 8 series:
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1939-2001 (Box 1, 11, 13, 15; 0.6 linear feet)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1942-2002 (Box 1-3, 13; 2.3 linear feet)
Series 3: Personal Business Records, 1925-2006 (Box 3-4; 0.7 linear feet)
Series 4: Notes and Writings, 1949-1998 (Box 4, 11, 14, 15; 0.8 linear feet.)
Series 5: Art Work, 1920-1994 (Box 4-5, 11, 13, 16, 17; 1.5 linear feet)
Series 6: Scrapbooks, 1926-1979 (Box 5, 11, 12; 0.5 linear feet)
Series 7: Printed Material, 1923-2000 (Box 5-7, 12, 13; 1.8 linear feet)
Series 8: Photographs, 1900-2001 (Box 7-9, 10; 2.4 linear feet)
Scope and Content Note
The papers of California painter, printmaker, and art instructor Dorr Bothwell date from 1900-2006, and measure 10.6 linear feet. Found within the papers are biographical material, correspondence, personal business records, notes and writings, five diaries, art work and 19 sketchbooks, three scrapbooks, printed material, and photographs.
Biographical material consists of biographical sketches, resumés, identity cards, award certificates, typescripts of autobiographical interviews, address books, and a file concerning UFOs, spirituality, and philosophy.
Correspondence consists of letters exchanged between Bothwell and her colleagues and friends discussing their art-related activities, travel, and birthday greetings. There are scattered letters from Ansel and Virginia Adams, Etel Adnan, Benjamin Chinn, Claire Falkenstein, and Emmy Lou Packard.
Personal business records include teaching contracts, contracts and royalty statements for the publication of Bothwell's book
, insurance records, income tax records, records concerning a grant from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, estate records, card files, lists of art work, price lists, exhibition entry cards, receipts for the sale of art work, travel receipts, medical receipts, and consignment/sales records.
Notes and writings include three diaries, two travel journals, guest books, miscellaneous lists, schedules of classes for various organizations and art schools including the Ansel Adams Yosemite Workshop, typescripts of lecture notes, and miscellaneous notes. There are also scattered writings by Bothwell and others.
Seventeen sketchbooks, including several completed during Bothwell's travels, and one dated 1942 illustrated with daily drawings of her activities while preparing for World War II, are found within the papers. There are also miscellaneous drawings, collages, a serigraph
It's Time for a Change
, an etching by Martha Jackson, and a drawing by Charles Howard.
Three scrapbooks contain clippings, exhibition announcements and catalogs, programs, and photographs of art work. Scrapbook 3 contains materials concerning spiritualism and mysticism. Additional printed material consists of clippings, exhibition announcements and catalogs, press releases, brochures for art classes, the sale of art work, travel, and camera equipment, reproductions of art work, picture postcards, programs, books, and miscellaneous commercial business cards.
Photographs are of Bothwell, her mother and brother, her studio/residences, miscellaneous friends and colleagues including her former husband, sculptor Donal Hord, miscellaneous events, and art classes conducted by Bothwell. There are also photographs of art work by Bothwell and others, as well as numerous photographs and slides of travel various forms in nature that Bothwell would incorporate into her art work.
Donated 1978 by Dorr Bothwell and 2002-2012 by the Dorr Bothwell Trust via Arnold Borley and Marlys Mayfield, Trustees.
Processing Information
The Dorr Bothwell papers were processed in 2011 by Jean Fitzgerald. An addition to this collection was processed in 2013 by intern Claire Norman.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.

How to Cite This Collection

Dorr Bothwell papers, 1900-2006. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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