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 Ila Mae McAfee  (1897 - 1995)

About: Ila Mae McAfee
 

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Lived/Active: New Mexico/New York/Colorado      Known for: portrait and animal painting, sculpture, textile design

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BIOGRAPHY for Ila McAfee
Facts/Data
Birth
1897 (Sargents, Colorado)
 
Death
1995 (Pueblo, Colorado)

Lived/Active
New Mexico/New York/Colorado

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portrait and animal painting, sculpture, textile design

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Taos Pre 1940
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Ila Mae McAfee was born 1897 in the small ranching community of Sargents in southwestern Colorado near Gunnison.  She died in 1995 in Pueblo, Colorado, where she moved after leaving her adobe home in Taos, New Mexico in late summer 1993.

She was raised on her family's ranch south of Gunnison, and attended Logan County School, riding ten miles each way to school.  In 1916, she graduated from Gunnison High School and then spent time in Los Angeles at the West Lake School of Art and the Haz Art School (1917-1918).

Returning to Colorado, she studied art with Catherine and Henry Ricter at Western State College where she earned a BA degree in 1919.  The next year she went to Chicago and became a student of muralist James E McBurney and served as his assistant until 1924.  During this time, she was also influenced by sculptor Lorado Taft. In 1925, she attended in New York the National Academy of Design, and 1926, the Art Students League.  She also worked as an illustrator and painter of miniature animals during this period.

In 1926, McAfee married Elmer Page Turner, an artist whom she had met on her parent's Colorado ranch, and that same year she visited Taos, New Mexico.  Two years later, she and her husband settled there, and in 1929, they built the White Horse Studio, which continued to be her residence until 1993, when she moved to Pueblo, Colorado.

In Taos, she became known for her pueblo paintings and her depictions of horses and other animals as well as Native Americans, ranch scenes, and landscapes.  In 1981, she was voted Taos Artist of the Year.  She also worked as a WPA artist, completing many commissions for post office locations such as Edmond, Oklahoma, and Clifton, Texas.

Source:
Phil Kovinick and Marian Yoshiki-Kovinick, Women Artists of the American West


Biography from William R Talbot Fine Art:
Ila Mae McAfee was born near Gunnison, Colorado in 1897 and grew up on a ranch.  From a very early age, she loved horses and began to draw them as soon as she could hold a pencil. She attended classes at the West Lake School of Art in Los Angeles and the Art Institute of Chicago where, writes Robert Parsons, “she studied and worked under the tutelage of Lorado Taft, a noted sculptor, and muralist James McBurney, whose assistant she eventually became. After some years she moved to New York City and attended the Art Students League and the National Academy of Design. While in New York McAfee also worked as an illustrator and painted portraits of horses for wealthy owners and breeders.”

Parsons continues: “It was during this period that she began receiving her first commissions for murals. But while McAfee must have found pleasure in these successes one imagines that the emotional pull of the west continued to exert a profound influence. While in Chicago McAfee had met and married fellow art student Elmer Turner, who also happened to be from Colorado. So when the pair decided where they wanted to pursue their artistic careers it was the west to which they returned, and found lifelong inspiration.” During a trip to California to complete a mural in Los Angeles, the couple stopped in Taos and became so enamored with the beauty of the valley that they moved there soon after. McAfee dedicated her career to capturing the special qualities of the Taos landscape, painting and making prints in that area for 65 years. In 1993, she moved to Pueblo, Colorado, where she died in 1995.

Writes Parsons: “By artistic synthesis McAfee laid claim in an exceptional way to the landscape she had known since childhood. She was distinctive and very much a Westerner. Her long, prolific career exemplifies the trajectory of American art at the time, which was one of moving toward self-discovery, confidence and the delineation of an American aesthetic that embraced American themes. Few accomplished this with more authenticity than Ila McAfee.”

Refs.: Robert Parsons, A Colorful Life: The Art of Ila McAfee, Resource Library, December 4, 2006 at www.tfaoi.com; Dean A. Porter et al., Taos Artists and Their Patrons, 1898–1950 (Notre Dame, Indiana: The Snite Museum of Art, 1999), pp. 133–134, 377.

Biography from Addison Rowe Fine Art:
Ila Mae McAfee was born 1897 in the small ranching community of Sargents in southwestern Colorado near Gunnison. She was raised on her family's ranch south of Gunnison and attended Logan County School, riding ten miles each way to school. In 1916, she graduated from Gunnison High School and then spent time in Los Angeles at the West Lake School of Art and the Haz Art School (1917-1918). In Taos, she became known for her pueblo paintings and her depictions of horses and other animals, as well as ranch scenes and landscapes. In 1981, she was voted Taos Artist of the Year. She also worked as a WPA artist, completing many commissions for post office locations such as Edmond, Oklahoma, and Clifton, Texas. Ila McAfee died in 1995 in Pueblo, Colorado, where she moved after leaving her adobe home in Taos, New Mexico in late summer 1993.


Biography from Santa Fe Fine Art Brokerage, LLC:
Ila Mae McAfee (1897 - 1995) was born in Colorado and studied under muralist James McBurney. She and her husband, Henry Page Turner moved to Taos in 1928 where they built White Horse Studio and became part of the Taos Artist movement until she left in 1993.

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