Click on an image for a larger view and the artist’s gallery
Dorr Bothwell was born in San Francisco where, in the mid 1920s, she had a studio and art gallery at the Montgomery Block, heart of the bohemian intellectual life of the city. In 1928, Bothwell traveled alone to American Samoa where she lived for two years doing work which she always considered her very best and which influenced all her later art. She also drew inspiration from her travels in Europe, Southeast Asia and Africa.
An innovator in the use of serigraphy as a fine art medium, Dorr Bothwell also produced major work in painting and collage. Her work is in collections worldwide, both private and public; a partial list includes the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, the Library of Congress, and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.
At Bill Zacha’s invitation, in 1960 Bothwell came to Mendocino to teach at the Mendocino Art Center. So intent was Zacha on keeping Dorr Bothwell in Mendocino that he built her a combination home and studio space at the corner of Kasten and Albion Streets and later built her a larger place by his rose garden behind the Bay Window Gallery.
Although Bothwell often escaped rainy Mendocino winters at her studio in Joshua Tree, Mendocino became her home and, as with so many who came to Mendocino, her work changed. A brief biography on the website of her longtime dealer, the Tobey C. Moss Gallery, alludes to her change of focus: “A thread of surreality and abstraction is observed in her paintings of the late 1920s through the 1950s, overtaken by her irrepressible gusto for life and nature.” That “irrepressible gusto” produced the vibrant collages, the images of Mendocino cats and fences in her painting and serigraphy, the large format canvases on metaphysical themes of Dorr Bothwell’s last forty years.
At the Mendocino Art Center Bothwell mentored generations of younger artists with insight and generosity. In addition to her work in painting, serigraphy and collage, Dorr Bothwell was a gifted teacher of serigraphy, collage, color theory and design, including notan.
First published in 1968, “Notan, the Light-Dark Principle of Design” by Dorr Bothwell and Marlys Mayfield, ISBN 048626856X, Dover Publications, 1991, $7.95, is available from Gallery Bookshop in Mendocino.
A partial list of Dorr Bothwell’s teaching credits includes the Parsons School of Design, New York, the California School of Fine Arts and the San Francisco Art Institute.
– Carol Goodwin Blick (2008)
Zacha’s Bay Window Gallery offers a selection of Dorr Bothwell’s works for sale as well as a growing archive for art lovers and scholars.
The Dorr Bothwell Archives, 1921-2001
In 2005, the Archives of American Art’s West Coast office, previously located in the Huntington Library’s Virginia Steele Scott Gallery of American Art, was closed due to budget constraints. Fortunately, the microfilm of unrestricted material, including the Dorr Bothwell papers, 1921-2001, officially held by the Archives in Washington, D.C., remains at the Huntington Library Art Collections, 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino, CA 91108; telephone 626-405-2100. The Huntington Art Collections staff will continue to provide access to the unrestricted microfilm by appointment only. To schedule an appointment to view Dorr Bothwell’s archives, call 626-405-2234.
Dorr Bothwell papers, 1921-2001
Dorr Bothwell interview, February 27, 1965
Dorr Bothwell Chronology, Tobey C. Moss Gallery
Doris (Dorr) Hodgson Bothwell, personal history, The Journal of San Diego History, Summer 1986
Dorr Bothwell, biography with links to images of early work, The Tobey C. Moss Gallery, 2000
Dorr Bothwell Memorial page, The Tobey C. Moss Gallery, 2000
Dorr Bothwell, The Mendocino Art Center
Dorr Bothwell, Wikipedia
Bothwell, Dorr. Dorr Bothwell’s African Sketchbook. Monica Hannasch, editor. Arti Grafiche Ambrosini – Roma, 2000. Print.
Bothwell, Dorr and Mayfield, Marlys. Notan: The Dark-Light Principle of Design. ISBN: 048626856X. Dover Publications, 1991. Print.
Bowers, Karen. “Dorr Bothwell: Original Prints from Three Decades”, Arts & Entertainment Magazine, March/April 1999. Mendocino Art Center, Mendocino, California. Print.
Oliver, Myrna. “Dorr Bothwell; Painter Lived Nomadic Life.” Los Angeles Times, 21 September 2000: B-8. Print.
Richard, Valliere T. “Dorr Bothwell: Edited Biography.” Arts & Entertainment Magazine, March/April 1999. Mendocino Art Center, Mendocino, California.
Trenton, Patricia. Independent Spirits: Women Painters of the American West, 1890-1945.” ISBN: 9780520202030. University of California Press, 1995. Print.