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Oil on canvas
38 x 30 inches
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Luvena Buchanan was born in Le Mars, Iowa, on December, 23, 1873. In 1897, she attanded the Art Institute of Chicago where she studied with John H. Vanderpoel, Ralph E. Clarkson and Harry M. Walcott. She returned to the Art Institute of Chicago in 1910 after teaching in the Pittsburg public schools in Kansas.
During this period, at the Art Institute of Chicago, she met fellow artist and future husband Edouard Vysekal (1890-1939), who was an instructor there. In 1914, Harold Bell Wright, a former Kansas pastor and one of America's best-known fiction writers, commissioned Luvena to paint murals for the new Barbara Worth Hotel in El Centro, in the Imperial Valley of California. Wright's book "The Winning of Barbara Worth" inspired local land developers to build a hotel to perpetuate the mysterious romance of the desert and to attract people to settle in the valley. Inviting Edouard to assist her, she accepted the assignment, which consisted of covering the walls of the lobby with a circular progression of murals closely following the story line of the book. The murals were ready to install in 1915. In May, that same year, five hundred guests attended the Barbara Worth Hotel's grand opening banquet. After the completion of the commission and a short visit to the Panama-California Exposition in San Diego, Edouard and Luvena settled in Los Angeles, where they married on January 1, 1917. There they sketched, painted, exhibited, and enjoyed life.
Luvena's artwork, consisting of portraits, figures, landscapes, florals, and still lifes, were almost exclusively executed in oil. She considered herself an uncompromising realist.
In the early 1920s, while Edouard began his career teaching at the Otis Art Institute (1922-1939), Luvena showed another of her talents, the ability to write well and to wield a very sharp pen. Beginning in mid-1922, writing under the nom de plume Benjamin Blue, thirty-four "Little Portraits" and "Counterfeit Presentments" appeared in Antony Anderson's Los Angeles Times "Art and Artists" column. All were written with the subject's identity a mystery; Anderson described them as clever pen-portraits of well-known artists, critics, and dealers.
Luvena and Edouard were active in conservative and progressive art associations. They were interested in introducing the community at large to post-impressionism, synchronism, futurism, Fauvism, and abstract art.
After Edouard suddenly passed away on December 2, 1939, a saddened Luvena found herself financially devastated, but with help from many friends, she opened the Vysekal Studio Gallery on Sunset Boulevard in 1942. The gallery held exhibitions of the Vysekals and later showed work by their contemporaries. The gallery floundered in 1950, and subsequently closed, but in less than a quarter of a century after they arrived in Los Angeles, they had established themselves as vital components and left their imprint on the early development of modernism in the city.
Luvena Buchanan Vysekal passed away on January 11, 1954.
Member: California Art Club; Laguna Beach Art Association; California Progressive Group, 1919; Group of Eight, 1921; The Modern Art Workers, 1925; California Watercolor Society.
Exhibited: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1924, 1927, 1929, 1932; Hollywood Club, 1927; Oakland Art Gallery, 1932; Ebell Club, 1934.
Works Held: State Historical Building, Topeka, Kansas.; Kansas State Agricultural College; Kansas State Capitol; Los Angeles Art Institute.
Hughes, Edan M. Artists In California 1786-1940. 3rd ed. Vol. 1. Sacramento: Crocker, Art Museum, 2002. N. pag. 2 vols. Print
St. Gaudens, Maurine. "Emerging from the Shadows: A Survey of Women Artists Working in California: 1860-1960." Vil. IV. 2015. Print.