Jesse Arms Botke

USA / 1883 - 1971 /
"Jessie Arms Botke was characterized in 1931 by Los Angeles Times art critic Arthur Miller as 'ample, warm, motherly; her mind vigorous as a well-rooted oak, [with] Rabelasian chuckles in her throat,' and the critical press in succeeding decades perceived the artist as the greatest decorative painter of the West. Most active in a period when the art world was almost an exclusive enclave of male artists, Jessie Botke gained extraordinary recognition through a strong work ethic and a talent that flowered rather late in her painting career. Her predilection for white birds – pelicans, geese, ducks, cockatoos, and white peacocks – inspired her to a high level of artistry.

A review of Botke’s life and artistic accomplishments reveals the portrait of a hardworking artist, irreverent in many respects, yet close to her Christian Science Church and its message – that we are “entitled to express energy, vitality, and joy.” She was forever prodding, pushing, and exploring in her attempt to gain full nourishment from life itself. Botke’s agenda constantly overflowed with her own projects and ideas, although she sought and provoked the thoughts of those around her. Apparently she required little sleep and seemed to be nourished and refreshed by her work – painting six days a week, sketching on Sundays, as well as picking,pruning, pickling, canning, reading current novels, traveling, and writing weekly to her family.

For her time, Botke was outspoken on the role of women in society and would be considered to day in the avant-garde of women’s liberation. In 1911 and again in 1912, while working for Herter Looms in New York City, she marched up Fifth Avenue from Washington Square to Central Park in the suffragette parade, shouting and demonstrating in her own inimitable fashion. Her husband, Cornelis, an artist who gained special recognition for his etchings, was usually cast in a. ..
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First Collected by

Suzan Hamer


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