N NOVEMBER of 1909, Pixie wrote Alfred Stieglitz that she had “just finished a big job for very little cash!” These were the black and white designs for a pack of Tarot cards. She also mentions her painting, “The Wave.” Along with her trip to New York (described below), 1909 proved to be a very busy year for her. Her artwork was featured three times from 1907-1909 at Stieglitz’s 291 (Photo-Succession) gallery. Here’s a comment on her first exhibit back in 1907:
“Stieglitz decided to shake things up, and he did so by mounting the first non-photography show at the gallery in January, 1907. This is notable because it signaled the beginning of Stieglitz’s role as a pioneer promoter of modern art in America. The show, drawings by artist Pamela Coleman Smith, initially attracted little attention, but after a prominent critic praised the work it became the best attended exhibition to date. A substantial number of the works were sold, and interest in the show was so strong that it had to be extended eight days.” [wikipedia summary of Robert Doty, Photo-Secession: Photography as Fine Art (Rochester, NY; George Eastman House, 1960) p. 43.]
I’ve featured images that go best with these newspaper articles. The next post, although later than the 291 exhibits, shows more of her paintings to music.
“a belief in fairies and goblins”
Thu., Mar. 25, 1909
Imagination in art was the general theme of a novel lecture by Pamela Colman Smith under the auspices of the Pratt Art Club delivered Tuesday night in the Assembly Hall of Pratt Institute on Ryerson street. Miss Smith labeled her informal illustrated talk “Magic Spectacles,” and devoted it principally to “people interested in art.” Quite a large number of people, mainly art enthusiasts from Brooklyn and Manhattan, where her work is greatly admired, greeted Miss Smith and gave close attention as she elucidated the force of imagination as expressed in the paintings of the foreign artists. She described and illustrated examples of French, Italian, Chinese and Japanese art and showed that in each case the imagination of the artists predominated to a large degree. Miss Smith recited in the dialect, stories of folklore and fables of Jamaica where she lived for seven or eight years. She proclaimed a belief in fairies and goblins, which she said existed when her imagination could be set to work. After her lecture, Miss Smith, who was formerly a Pratt art student, held a brief reception and met many of her friends. Her works are now on exhibition in Manhattan and have attracted a little attention.
— The Brooklyn Daily Eagle
“a little Kat Greenaway girl”
Sat., Mar. 27, 1909
At the Macbeth Gallery there were such interesting personalities as Janet Scudder, the clever young sculptor, and Pamela Colman Smith, who created such a furore by her recitation of old West Indian folk stories when she came over from England with Ellen Terry a year or two ago. Miss Smith is a niece of George Colman, an American artist, who spent most of his life in Italy. Recently she has been holding a “one man” exhibit at the Photo-Secession Galleries [Stieglitz’s gallery]. Of particular interest on this side of the river is this singularly gifted woman, for she is a niece of the late Mrs. Samuel Howard of Amity Street, and there are still many on the Heights who remember her mother, a brilliant young woman, especially clever in private theatricals which were often given at the Howards residence forty years ago. The well-bred crowd at the Macbeth Gallery was too polite to stare at Miss Smith as she made her rounds, but when she left the room one heard many inquiries as to who that remarkably picturesque little woman could be. Her gown and coat were long and floppy and of a sort of pussy-willow gray. On top of her curly coal black hair she wore a high-crowned gray hat, which in place of a brim, had a box pleating of bottle-green ribbon. When she entered the room you felt as if a little Kat Greenaway girl had suddenly been endowed with life and walked right out from the covers of a book.
— Brooklyn Life
Most of the illustrations here are from The Green Sheaf (1902). I also included the painting that I believe is called “The Wave,” and “What Does He See But the Fairy” from In Chimney Corners (1899).