Monday, May 11, 2015

The New Regionalism of the 1930s and 1940s


The group of Dallas artists to which Allie Tennant belonged had become strongly committed starting in the late 1920s to the Regional movement then sweeping intellectual circles throughout the nation and Western Europe. As a Regionalist, Allie Tennant subscribed to most all of the attributes above, all of which formed part of the credo of this movement. For Allie Tennant and the other Dallas artists caught up in the movement, Regionalism was definitely not a home-grown concept, but instead had deep roots across the nation and elsewhere around the world. Art, for Regionalists, had to be made accessible to all people in society. Many Texas historians, writers, artists, musicians, photographers, and others involved in creative activities glorified the Regional experience. As did Tennant, they used Texas themes to inform their work. The first well-known, nationally-recognized artists who became practitioners of this new Regionalism during the 1930s were not Texans, but instead mid-westerners. Grant Wood, John Steuart Curry, and Thomas Hart Benton all received much publicity early in the decade as artists whose work existed at the forefront of this movement.

For an introduction to Regionalism as related to Grant Wood, click here.

The Navarro Sculpture at Corsicana, 1938

Allie Tennant poses with the model of her Navarro monument
Allie Tennant sculpted a statue of Jose de Navarro as part of the State of Texas Centennial celebration. It was dedicated in the fall of 1938. A number of luminaries gathered in Corsicana for its formal unveiling on October 3rd. Richard Mays served as master of ceremonies. United States Senator Tom Connelly gave the major address of dedication with additional remarks delivered by Congressman Luther Johnson. Corsicana native Buford Jester, who was then serving on the University of Texas Board of Regents and would later be the governor of Texas, formally presented Allie Tennant a huge bouquet of golden chrysanthemums. A modest public speaker, she demurred politely from making extensive remarks at the dedication and instead said only that she wished her work to speak for itself