Cover Art Description:
Few paintings capture what biographer Don Hagerty has termed the "Dixon synthesis"—a trademark horizon, flat planar composition, and total subjugation of detail to larger effects—better than Maynard Dixon's In Zion (1934, gouache, 23" x 17"), reproduced on the front cover courtesy its private owner. Dixon (1875-1946) was long an artist and illustrator for such magazines as Scribner's, Colliers, and Sunset Magazine. His In Zion appeared on the cover of Sunset in November 1934.
Not all Dixon art related to the picturesque, however. In the 1930s, Dixon grew increasingly incensed by the isolation, alienation, and sometimes violence spawned by the depression era, especially after witnessing bloody labor strife in San Francisco in 1934. "Like other artists, I had dodged the responsibility of facing social conditions," he wrote. "The depression woke me up to the fact that I had a part in all this, as an artist." Thus stirred, Dixon began his "strike and forgotten man" series of paintings—somber, social realist portraits of individuals caught in what the artist termed a "faceless terror."
Part of the series was No Place To Go (1935, oil on canvas, 25" x 30"). Reproduced on the back cover courtesy Museum of Art, Brigham Young University, it shows a man leaning wearily against a fence that leads downhill to the Pacific Ocean—the geographical end to the frontier West. As Hagerty observes, Dixon usually avoided overt social statement in his art, but in this and several other paintings he portrayed the downcast—migrants, hoboes, and strikers—with the same dignity he afforded Indians, cowboys, and others of the western outback. In much the same way, Evelyne Pickett tells the story of itinerant laborers—hoboes—who moved about the northern West in constant search for work between 1870 and 1920. Her article begins on page 18.
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