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Effie Anderson Smith

 (1869 - 1955)
Effie Anderson Smith was active/lived in Arizona, Arkansas.  Effie Smith is known for impressionist desert landscape painting, Grand Canyon.

Effie Anderson Smith

Biography from the Archives of askART

Born in Hope, Arkansas, Effie Smith became known for her impressionistic landscapes of the Grand Canyon, the desert country, and the mountains of Cochise County in southeast Arizona.  She frequently went on horse back riding trips with her husband, painting while he did surveying.  His knowledge of the mineral and chemical content of the rocks in the landscape helped her with coloration.

She grew up in Arkansas and became a teacher in Little Rock.  She moved West with her mother in 1892 for her mother's health, but her mother died that same year. In 1895, she took a teaching position in New Mexico and the same year married married A.Y. Smith, who was a telegrapher for the Santa Fe Railway Company.  He became President of Commonwealth Company, owners of the silver and gold mines of Pearce, Arizona, where they lived following a brief stay in Benson.  For a time, they were wealthy, entertained lavishly, and were the leaders of the social set in their area.  However, the Pearce mines flooded, and the heyday passed.  The Smiths moved from their old territorial adobe mansion into a simple frame bungalow, and their income was a simple percentage of the mining profits plus the money from Effie's paintings.

The Smiths had two children, a son and then a daughter that died at seven months. To assuage her grief from this loss, she pursued her art talents, which many people from the East had been encouraging her to do.  In her 40s, she enrolled in the Los Angeles Institute of Art and then attended the Stickney Art School in Pasadena from 1914 to 1917 before returning to Pearce. Two important teachers for her at the Stickney School were Richard E Miller in portraiture and Jean Mannheim in landscape.

Gradually her reputation as a serious artist grew, and her paintings of the Grand Canyon hung in the lobby of its hotel, El Tovar.  Her work was also in the lobby of the old Santa Rita Hotel in Tucson, and by the 1930s in the Corcoran Gallery in Washington DC. Early on, she signed her paintings EA Smith.

Her husband died in 1931, and she remained in Pearce until the late 1930s when she moved to Morenci, Arizona to be near her son.  She operated art studios there and in Douglas where she also taught art including lessons for the troops stationed there during World War II.  She devoted much time to public speaking and the promoting of art throughout Arizona.  She loved to talk about new ways of seeing the landscape and referenced musical theory including the reference to the Grand Canyon as a symphony in color and music.  She advised children to cherish the land and said that no part of the world had as much possibility for art as Arizona because of the variety of geographical shapes and colors.

Effie was an early feminist and asserted that the pottery and blankets of the Indian women were as skilled as the work of any man.

She died in 1955 at the Pioneer Home in Prescott, and has been largely forgotten from the time she was regarded as one of Arizona's premier artists.

"The Cochise Quarterly", Fall 1989. 'Arizona's Forgotten Artist'. O Carroll Arnold.

Biography from the Archives of askART

The following information was provided by Steven Carlson, a relative of the artist:

Several details in family documents and photos, including the book Principal Women of America published in 1932 by Mitre Press in London, to which E.A. Smith had submitted biographic details herself, differ from other sources in the following:

Effie Anderson Smith (1869-1955).

Place of Birth: Nashville, Arkansas.  (She later lived in Hope and attended school there).

Written Works: authoress of The Desert Places, and The Grand Canyon Subjects.

Work & Studies: "She has specialized for the last fifteen years in Arizona landscape, and has studied special phases of landscape in Wash. and Nat. Academy, Phila."

Biography from the Archives of askART
Born in Hope, AR on Sept. 29, 1868. Effie Anderson taught in Little Rock until 1895 when she moved to Deming, NM. In that year she married Andrew Smith and settled in Pearce, AZ. Shortly after the turn of the century she came to California to study painting in Oakland (1904), with May Shockley in San Francisco (1908), Laguna Beach and at the Stickney School in Pasadena under Jean Mannheim and Richard Miller. She died in Prescott, AZ on April 21, 1955. Exh: San Francisco Art Association, 1904; Santa Rita Hotel (Tucson), 1926, 1927, 1932 (solos).

Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
City Directory; Women Artists of the American West; Death record; Prescott Courier, 4-22-1955 (obituary).

Nearly 20,000 biographies can be found in Artists in California 1786-1940 by Edan Hughes and is available for sale ($150). For a full book description and order information please click here.

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About  Effie Anderson Smith

Born:  1869 - Hope, Arkansas
Died:   1955 - Prescott, Arizona
Known for:  impressionist desert landscape painting, Grand Canyon