restricted access One Foot on the Rockies: Women and Creativity in the Modern American West by Joan M. Jensen (review)
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76Rocky Mountain Review Ultimately, then, although there are several fine essays in this book, of which Case's, Orgel's and Sedgwick's are only three, I was quite disappointed . I must confess that I tired of reading essays that reinscribe academic isolation and that quote the same few theorists as if there was not an enormous world outside the academy where similar, if not identical, conversations have been going on for much longer than queer theory has existed. Although someone who doesn't know much about the field will find the book useful, those who have more familiarity with the issues in question should pick and choose quite carefully. ROBERT KAPLAN New York City JOAN M. JENSEN. One Foot on the Rockies: Women and Creativity in the Modern American West. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1995. 169 p. Originally a 1991 series of lectures delivered at the University of New Mexico, this history intends to aid in the work now underway among scholars "to replace the older image of western women of a decade ago—mainly Anglo pioneers and prostitutes—with a new multicultural image, and to rewrite western history with women at the center" (vii). Jensen surveys the writing, painting, dancing, basketmaking, photography, filmmaking, and other work of numerous ethnically diverse women who may be identified with the Pacific Southwest at some point from the late nineteenth century to the present. Included are many well known and lesser known women artists, of whom the following is only a partial list: writers Mary Austin, Zoe Akins, Lucy Thompson, Christine Quintasket, Ntozake Shange, and Maxine Hong Kingston; painters Grace Carpenter Hudson, Georgia O'Keefe, and Judy Baca; basketmakers Joseppa Dick, Annie Burke, and Burke's daughter Elsie Allen; photographer Emma Freeman; and dancers Isadora Duncan, Martha Graham, Maud Allan, Agnes de Mille, and Essie Parrish. Clearly, Jensen has cast her net widely—rather too widely, in fact, to treat substantively (in 150 pages of text) either these women's work or the many factors that supported or inhibited its production. The latter is Jensen's chief interest. "To create," she claims, these artists "needed at least four essential elements: an ideology that valued their creativity , cultural support that sustained their creative lives, a market or exchange system that provided a demand for their cultural products, and an audience that understood, criticized, and kept their cultural traditions alive" (4). Just where one can find the book exploring the first two points systematically is a bit unclear—though they are mentioned in general terms, it is true, numerous times throughout—unless one counts the early chapters' interest in the degree of involvement, for good and for bad, exhibited by some artists' immediate "cultures," their families and their male sexual partners. One example is that of early twentieth-century Book Reviews77 Californiens Grace and John Hudson: instrumental as he was in making her paintings support them financially, there nevertheless came a time when she seemed better able to work while living apart from him. Although Jensen explores this theme of male influence in other examples—almost exclusively Anglo couples, unfortunately—they are often stories, such as Isadora Duncan's and Georgia O'Keefe's, that have been better told elsewhere. Of course, cultural ideology and support include much more than the artists' personal lives, so these topics overlap with the third and fourth ones Jensen singles out, markets and audiences. "Naming a Price, Finding a Space: The Marketplace" is perhaps Jensen's most interesting chapter, in which she traces fluctuating economic attitudes—not always coincident with critical ones—in both the east and west toward western women's arts. For example, the Native American baskets that first attracted the attention of white tourists in search of cheap souvenirs soon became, thanks to the aggressive activity of white collectors like Grace Nicholson, high-ticket museum pieces. Except for the fact that some of the artists themselves—such as Joseppa Dick—benefitted financially from this development, these pieces could almost, on one level, be called the spoils of war, the usually quiet but inexorable war that was waged against indigenous groups by an advancing (literally, with improved rail and auto routes) Euro-American culture...


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