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 Claire Disbrow Sutherland  (1883 - 1965)

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Lived/Active: New York/Colorado/Montana/Nebraska      Known for: native American, landscape and religion painting

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Claire Cormack is primarily known as Claire Disbrow Sutherland

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Claire D. Sutherland, a painter of Native Americans, was born on February 9, 1883, in Harvard, Nebraska, growing up there, and moving to Kalispell, Montana, in the late 1890s. Before she came to art, Sutherland taught school; was a governess in Japan for two years; and married George Francis Sutherland, in 1912, living in Great Falls, Montana, until 1930 when he died.

It was only then, around forty-seven years of age, that Sutherland sought to become an artist. It was as if the emotional vacuum of the eight-year period between the death of her first husband and marriage to her second---1930-1938---were filled by art. Before and after, her activity as an artist was either non-existent or significantly diminished, which indeed proved to be the case. From 1931-1935, she studied with Winold Reiss, a well-known painter of Indians, in New York at his winter studio, and his summer school in Glacier National Park, Montana. She then studied in Colorado Springs, in 1935-1936, with Lyos Tregouboaf, followed by study with Boardman Robinson and George Biddle at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. In 1938 Sutherland married a Montana state senator, George Cormack, living on his CX Ranch in southeastern Montana. Although he built her a studio, after 1940 she was not as productive.

Sutherland painted and drew the Indians of Glacier National Park, Oklahoma and elsewhere in the West, in oil, pastel and charcoal. In 1934, she exhibited Red Rock, Ojibway at the No-Jury Exhibition, Salons of America, and Blackfoot Medicine Man at the 1935 annual of the National Association of Women Painters and Sculptors, both in New York City. Other exhibitions include Chappel House, Denver; Art Forum, Sheridan, Wyoming; Anderson Galleries and Argent Galleries, both in New York; as well as numerous Montana shows.

In 1938, as if bidding a final farewell to her first husband in the year of her marriage to her second husband, Sutherland dedicated a large religious canvas to him, Christ of the Mountains, depicted in a Montana setting, painted for the Deaconess Hospital, Great Falls, Montana. Nineteen years later, she donated her sculpted bust of Senator Cormack, who died in 1953, to the St. Peters Hospital, Helena.

Sutherland lived on the CX Ranch until the late 1950s, spending winters in the early 1950s in Tucson, Arizona. She painted the southern Arizona landscape, studying in Tubac with Dale Nichols. She eventually moved to Sheridan, Wyoming, then to Seattle, Washington, to live with her sister in 1959, where she died April 14, 1965.
References: Who's Who in Northwest Art; Great Falls Tribune, 25 Oct 1931, 9 Apr 1934, 14 Apr 1935, 9 Nov 1935, 31 Jul 1938, 7 Aug 1938; Independent Record (Helena), 1 Dec 1957; Daily Inter Lake (Kalispell), 16 Apr 1965; Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 18 Apr 1965; US Census 1900, Flathead County, MT, ED 35, pg 3; Conrad Memorial Cemetery record, Kalispell, MT; Great Falls Public Library files; W. T. Reiss, 1984; E. S. Dorn (sister-in-law), 1992; J. Grande (niece), 1992.

Phil Kovinick and Marian Yoshiki Kovinick, "An Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West"

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