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 Clara (Cioban) MacGowan  (1894 - 1983)

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Lived/Active: Illinois/Washington/California / Canada      Known for: western landscape painting, block printing

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
A painter, block printer, teacher, lecturer, writer and illustrator, Clara MacGowan was born in Montreal, Canada and emigrated with her parents to Gill, Massachusetts in the early 1900s. By 1910, they were in Wallace City, Idaho. She studied at Lewiston State Normal College (now Lewis and Clark State College) from 1912 to 1914, and was a teacher and principal at the high school in Dreary Idaho from 1914 to 1916. Following that, she studied briefly at the University of Washington in Seattle, then taught at a school in Seattle before opening a private studio of ceramic design. In 1927, she earned a BFA degree and in 1928 an MFA degree from the University of Washington.

The remainder of her career was a combination of teaching, writing, traveling and fine-art creating in both abstract and representational forms. From 1928 to 1949, she was Head of the Department of Theory and Practice of Art of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. In 1929, she studied in Paris with Andre Lhote and Fernand Leger. From 1938 to 1940, she was President of the National Endowment for the Arts. After leaving her position at Northwestern, she remained in Chicago for many years with intermittent travels to Camp Pendleton, California.

Exhibitions venues included Vienna in Frauen Kunst; Arts Club of Chicago; Chicago Society of Artists; Denver Art Museum; Gima Gallery in Waikiki, Hawaii in 1948; and Delphic Studios in New York.  From 1936 to 1938, Delphic studios brought her national attention by exhibiting many of her oil and watercolor national park and mountain landscapes, especially views of Glacier National Park in Montana, the Grand Canyon of Arizona and Cascade Mountains of Washington state.

MacGowan was co-author of the book Chicago-History in Block Print and illustrator of The Social History of Chicago in Blockprint by Arthur J. Todd. For Design magazine of January 1949, she wrote an article: 'Polynesian Treasures in the Bishop Museum in Honolulu'. This material was based on her experiences during a two-year leave of absence from 1947 to 1949 from Northwestern when she taught at the Branch of the University of Hawaii at Schofield Barracks.

In 1941, MacGowan married Edward Cioban, who became missing-in-action during World War II. From 1950 to 1954, she was owner and director of the school called Studio of Art Interpretation in San Francisco. She spent her last years in San Diego County, California where she was a teacher at the College of the Desert in Palm Desert.

Sources include:
Phil Kovinick and Marion Yoshiki Kovinick, An Encyclopedia of Women Artists of the American West
Louise Dunn Yochim, Role and Impact: The Chicago Society of Artists

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