An accomplished artist and musician, Wesley Wehr became a friend and often a confidant of many of the painters, poets, and musicians who lived or worked in the Northwest in the 1950s and 1960s. In his journals, he recorded these artists' views of themselves and their art-making during a time of singular artistic vitality that enlivened and defined the region's culture as it interacted with the emerging modernism of the wider art world. The wittily perceptive notes, reminiscences, and conversations he has gathered into this book are a revelatory delight, providing an intimate and unique assessment of Seattle's 20th-century art history.
The Eighth Lively Art profiles painters Mark Tobey, Pehr Hallsten, Helmi Juvonen, Guy Anderson, and Morris Graves, as well as photographer Imogen Cunningham and gallery owner Zoe Dusanne. Poets Theodore Roethke, Richard Selig, Elizabeth Bishop, and Leonie Adams are characterized, as is philosopher Susanne Langer. The closing essays tell of friendships with musicians Ernest Bloch and Berthe Poncy Jacobson, and actor Margaret Hamilton (famous for her role as the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz). Photographs of each of the artists are included, as is a brief biographical sketch. Throughout, Wehr's own voice, self-effacing and droll, provides the backbone for this engagingly written, intriguing, and informative series of vignettes.