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 Paulina Jones Everitt  (1905 - 1996)

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Lived/Active: Missouri/Kansas      Known for: painting, small-scale sculpture, book illustration, teaching

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Paulina Everitt
An example of work by Paulina Jones Everitt
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Paulina Jones Everitt
Born 1905 or 1906
Died in 1996 at age 90.
In addition to painting also known for sculpture

"Saving the Past"
By David Tanner
The Examiner, Saturday, June 7, 2003

Bob and Paulina Everitt had a love affair with life.

Married 65 years, the couple was at one time very well known and visible in the community.   He was a noted architect and she was a prolific and talented artist.

In their long lives, having both lived to be 90, they gave of themselves in art circles and historical societies, both as volunteers and financial contributors.

That is why a number of friends and neighbors stood by in shock this past week, as a cleanup crew cleared out the late couple's home to prepare it for sale.

The cleanup at 107 E. Southside Blvd. in Independence, a historically significant address not only for its contents but for its architecture, included disposal of furniture, shelves, clothing, knickknacks, personal effects, and to the dismay of many onlookers many of Paulina's sketches and paintings.

"I feel sad about this woman's life being thrown in a Dumpster," said Mary Lynn Anderson, an artist from Pleasant Hill, who learned from a friend about the home being gutted.   From the trash bin, she and her husband Ralph Anderson salvaged an 1870s doll, some drawings and a wood-framed mirror.

Bob died in 2001, five years after his wife.  His last wishes in writing included leaving the home in a trust to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City.

When they learned of the bequest, museum curators toured the home to estimate and remove any of the pieces deemed to be museum quality.

Since the Everitt trust was for unrestricted use of the proceeds, the museum exercised policy and began preparing the property for sale.

Finished and unfinished works of art, frames, clothes and furniture.  It all went.

"When valuable things are put in a Dumpster like that, people are going to get up in arms," said Henry Inouye, head of the Santa Fe Trail neighborhood association, a group that until recently had been trying to make plans for the home as an informal museum and gathering place.  The group gave up, Inouye said, when the Nelson split up the land and sold half to the Taco Bell/Pizza Hut chain, which built a new restaurant fronting Noland Road at Fair Street.

Bob Everitt designed and built his art-moderne home, similar to a Frank Lloyd Wright design, after returning from service in World War II.  Several local historians said the abode was the first all-electric home in Independence and possibly Jackson County.

On the business side, Everitt's architectural credits include design work on the Federal Building in downtown Kansas City.

Everitt, also a former member of the Independence City Council, built studios for his wife at their home, including additions.  The remaining property still contains three out-buildings and a pottery kiln in back of the house.

With most of the Everitts' possessions and art now gone, either taken for the museum collection or put out on the curb for neighbors and passersby to salvage, friends, neighbors and Bob Everitt's later-life caretaker, Gwen Strickland, 60 of Kansas City, are disputing the museum's methods.

"When I saw the stuff in the trash I went to pieces," Strickland said.   She knew Bob Everitt for 25 years, working for the architect in his Kansas City office, and later as his caregiver after Paulina died in 1996.

In a state of shock, Strickland could only ask questions of the museum-hired cleanup crew last week.

"We've been trying to let people save it rather than having to throw it away," responded worker Mike Moffett of Kansas City.

Crew members said people started stopping by and the yard became kind of a "free-for-all."

"I kind of feel bad about that," added worker Tom Simpson of Kansas City.

The museum's official response has been positive about what was saved, and not hinged upon what has been thrown away.

"We sent in a team of curators to search the artistic content," said Barbara Head, manager of development.  "I'm confident we took what was appropriate for historical or artistic purposes."

Head said she did not know the amount or value of the art the museum kept, but she said the museum recognizes Paulina's talents and the couple's contribution.

"This was a generous and remarkable gift," she said.  "I couldn't be more pleased with it and we intend to use it well."

Whether retrieved by the museum or passersby, Paulina Everitt's works included terracotta pottery she exhibited at the 1939 World's Fair in Chicago.  She also showed in St. Louis.

"She was good," said Paulina's nephew Robert H. Jones of Independence. "In this area she would have been one of the best."

Paulina's maiden name was Jones.  She was a descendent of the Jones family, who long ago surveyed the land that was to become Jackson County.

Robert H. Jones said he didn't know a lot of the details of the trust, only that there was something in it about Bob leaving the property to the art museum.

Jones and his wife, Chris, said they hoped much of the couple's life's work could be saved and given to the area historical societies.

During the comings and goings at the property last week, neighbor and historian Eric Fowler found in the trash a laminated photocopy of a St. Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper, dated May 1, 1932.   On the front page of the paper is one of Paulina's exhibited paintings called "The Veteran."

"On Sunday (May 25) I was driving by and saw people carrying stuff out," Fowler said.

He talked to Strickland, the caregiver, for a while about what a shame it was to have people digging old photographs and antiques out of the trash.

"This is an untold love story bout people who gave their lives to art," Strickland said. "They have told us about who we are and where we are in history."

In caring for Bob Everitt later in life, Strickland was probably the best authority on Bob's life and his late wife's artwork.  Her job included archiving the mass quantities of Paulina's art in preparation of the inevitable need for a destination.

"The Everitts had more of a complete history than anyone I've ever known," Strickland said.

Bob thought of her as a daughter, she says.

"It's painful for me," she said. "Life was every moment for Bob."

Strickland has hired an attorney to research the Everitt trust and Bob's true intentions, as she believes he would have included her somewhere.

"He promised me he would look after me in exchange for care," Strickland said.

That final wish was not written down on any formal document, Strickland said, and as a result, it pained her to turn the keys over to the art museum.

Almost ironically, one neighbor who wished to remain anonymous, removed from the trash a photo album containing pictures of a retirement party for Bob Everitt at the Nelson museum where he volunteered for many years.

"We see how these kinds of situations are inadequately handled," said Inouye, the neighborhood association president, "By all of us."

Inouye said he talked with Strickland several times, before and after Bob Everitt's death, about preserving the home.

"Gwen was an excellent caregiver for the old man," Inouye said. "She had everything categorized and ready to give out to the proper people."

Many of the folks removing things from the trash container and home last week said they have noble intentions for the works.

In the years to come, when Anderson, the artist from Pleasant Hill, looks into the antique mirror she salvaged, she will see not only herself, but an image of an artist she respects but never knew.

"I am going to restore this mirror as homage to a great woman," she said. "Just walking through the house I could almost get an idea of this person's life."

- David Tanner The Examiner Eastern Jackson County

Additional information on Paulina Everitt.

Paulina Jones Everitt was one of the quiet artists about town.  Her husband, R. Stanton Everitt, was an accomplished architect who was involved in the design of the Federal Building and other notable Kansas City buildings.  She studied under Benton and elsewhere. Everitt had begun to experiment with sculpture, having been inspired by "the Greek Tanagra statuettes at the Nelson Gallery of Art".  Her renaissance came about in a real unlikely fashion. She and her husband left their entire estste to a local institution that her biography will develop with time.

This much is known: She was a graduate from Missouri University, Columbia Missouri.  She attended the Kansas City Art Institute and Washington University of Fine Arts, St. Louis, MO.

Winner of Mid-Western (Watercolor) Kansas City, Missouri.
Joslyn Museum Collection (Drawing) Omaha, Nebraska.
Honorable Mention (Drawing) Missouri Show, St. Louis Museum. 
Purchase Award, Mid-America, Nelson Gallery, Kansas City, MO (Sculpture).
International Exhibit, New York's World Fair (Watercolor).

Published Works: Official Visitor's Guide, The KANSAS CITIAN '68, Color reproduction of 13 water color paintings of scenes of Kansas City (two were used for covers).

- Author unknown

Submitted March 2006 by Scott Wilder, art researcher specializing in artists of Kansas and Missouri.

Biography from David Cook Galleries:
Granddaughter of the surveyor of the Santa Fe Trail, Paulina Jones Everitt was a passionate and prolific painter and sculptor since her early youth in Kansas. A graduate from Missouri University, she attended Kansas City Art Institute and Washington University of Fine Arts. She studied with Thomas Hart Benton, and her regionalist period reflects that connection. Married to a successful architect, R. Stanton (Bob) Everitt, Paulina began her career by painting and sketching and taught art in the Kansas public school system in Independence for two years. Over the years, she provided illustrations, most notably a historical guidebook of Independence.

After seeing an exhibition of Greek Tanagra figurines at the Nelson-Atkins Museum in the early 1950s, she discovered what she called a "latent desire to become a sculptress." These small sculptures depict mostly women in everyday garb, and their discovery in the 1860s had inspired artists like Degas. Paulina set upon a volume of clay left over from the basement excavation of her art-moderne home (designed and built by her husband). She soon built a kiln in a small cottage on the property and began to learn to fire by trial and error. As part of this work, she made numerous drawings and watercolors of nude figures.

The couple lived into their 90s, with Paulina passing before Bob. Many of Everitt's works were lost when the house at 107 E. Southside Blvd. in Independence was gutted after being left in trust without restrictions to the Nelson-Atkins Museum ? with items grabbed out of dumpsters by friends as well as passer-bys. A selection of her pieces is now in the collection of the museum.

Exhibitions: Winner of Mid-Western (Watercolor) Kansas City, Missouri; Joslyn Museum Collection (Drawing) Omaha, Nebraska; Honorable Mention (Drawing) Missouri Show, St. Louis Museum; Purchase Award, Mid-America, Nelson Gallery, Kansas City, MO (Sculpture); International Exhibit, New York's World Fair (Watercolor); Little Gallery, University of Kansas City

Published Works: Official Visitor's Guide, The KANSAS CITIAN '68, Color reproduction of 13 water color paintings of scenes of Kansas City (two were used for covers). - Author unknown.

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