Two American Artists: potter/professor Richard Fairbanks painter/author Dixie Parker-Fairbanks

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9781517539665: Two American Artists: potter/professor Richard Fairbanks painter/author Dixie Parker-Fairbanks

The first time Richard Fairbanks’ hands touched clay his future was assured. At an earlier age, Dixie Parker recalls strongest memories of a desire to paint. When the handsome young professor arrived on the Drake University campus, the shy, dowdy sophomore art student describes a mystical-magical force upon “hearing” Richard’s name, knowing with certainty they would someday marry. For two decades the couple’s tenuous connections flowed through Richard’s university teaching and Dixie’s professional coming of age at the vibrant Des Moines Art Center during its greatest transition. Each artist had opportunities to meet and learn from great art personalities of that period. Richard’s 1960 Fulbright grant to Finland brought contact with designer Kaj Franck, glass master Oiva Toiikka, and most notably potter Kyllikki Salmenhaara at the famed OY Wärtsilä-Arabia manufacturing firm. Dixie’s curatorial, teaching and painting skills were honed at the museum with New York guest painters Nicolas Marsicano, Will Barnet, and Jimmy Ernst. Seven years after arriving in Iowa, Richard acceptance of a cut in rank and pay to return home to teach at Central Washington College was stunning. For Dixie, with romantic dreams unrealized, and her passion for painting escalating, there was equal incentive to move on. Job offers included a one-person art department in Athens, Ohio and enticing invitations to relocate in New York to further stretch her artistic wings. With scant notice after returning to the Northwest, Richard flew into Des Moines on a stopover after his first of many European research journeys. On a humidly hot Sunday morning, the dashing professor proposed marriage to Dixie, a woman who had finally found her personal and professional footing and had no hesitation accepting. This account of the Fairbanks’ shared life brims over with highest of high and lowest of low experiences. Much is related through compelling journals, personal and business letters, accomplished art exhibitions, museum and university recollections, studio work and shared far-flung travels. Since Richard’s death mid-career in 1989, their bond continues through Dixie’s two-decade effort to preserve the unprecedented collection of Richard’s ceramics, educational archive, and their folk art collection. In the end, the author assures us that the miracle of love prevails.

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About the Author:

Author: Dixie Parker-Fairbanks, a figurative painter and writer. Her books include University of Washington Press' "Essential Passions, Fairbanks Salmenhaara Letters" 1999, "Silent Sunflowers, A Balkan Memoir" 2000. Also, "Vessels of the Heart" (with essay by noted Professor Val Cushing, Alfred University) which was published in 2008 by the Richard Fairbanks American Potter Foundation (nonprofit). The author holds BFA and MFA degrees from Drake University where, as a sophomore art student she met Richard Fairbanks, arriving for his first university teaching position. Previously, the author had traveled independently to Italy, France and England, while Richard, also single, spent 1960 on a Fulbright grant as guest artist at the famed Arabia Manufacturing ceramics firm in Helsinki. After marriage Dixie and Richard, made extensive research trips throughout Europe studying fine and folk art. The author provides much of their shared life through their journals, correspondence, and descriptions of exhibitions of her painting and her husband's ceramics.

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Dixie Parker-Fairbanks
ISBN 10: 1517539668 ISBN 13: 9781517539665
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