Carolyn Kizer’s tribute to Morris Graves

When I first read Carolyn Kizer’s Ungrateful Garden I completely overlooked the poem "From an Artist’s House" which is dedicated to Morris Graves. I overlooked it simply because I knew little or nothing about Morris then, Recently, though, I keep running into Morris Graves, everywhere. As a result, he now seems more and more like a key figure in the Northwest artistic movement. As often happens, the more you study a subject, the more links you discover to familiar and unfamiliar ideas.

Needless to say, then, that the following poem resonates with me:

From an Artist’s House

for Morris Graves

A bundle of twigs
On the roof. We study pictures:
Nests of hern and crane.
The artist who built this house
Arranged the faggots here.

In the inlaid box
With a gilt hasp concealing
A letter, a jewel?
Within, a bunch of feathers,
The small bones of a bird.

The great gold kakemono
With marvelous tapes and tassles,
Handles of pale bone,
Is a blaze on the wall. Someone
Painted an oak-leaf to the silk.

Full of withered oranges,
The old,lopsided compote
Reposes on the sill.
Poor crockery, immortal
On twenty sheets of paper.

"Moor Swan" 1933 Morris Graves

The concrete details in the poem of a mini-study of Graves’ style and influence. At least at this point in his career, Graves was most famous for his painting of birds, and, though the paintings are more symbolic than realistic, they convey the feeling that the artists truly understands the very nature of birds. And as the second stanza suggests, the birds seem to be the most valuable thing in life, more valuable than any mere jewel. The third stanza suggests the fusion of eastern and western art that takes place in Morris’ paintings. And the final stanza, suggests that Graves’ paintings will, by their own immortality, make the "poor crockery" immortal, too.

14 thoughts on “Carolyn Kizer’s tribute to Morris Graves”

  1. In 1932, in Beaumont, Texas, Morris Graves was a senior at Beaumont High School. I was editor of “The Pine Burr”, the high school yearbook, and was able to get Morris to work as my “art editor”.
    We fooled around a bit (I have pictures of Morris, Clara Davis (who later became my wife) and Derwood Winfree when we were cutting up on a picnic in the piney woods.
    Morris was beginning to be recognized as a true artist, and, in designing the yearbook, we wanted to use some of his talent throughout. We had hoped for a Precolumbian motif, but Morris’ pre-delection on birds sort of outweighed our attempts to get more Maya atmosphere into it.
    We wanted separation pages done in artwork to describe each section, faculty,students, sports, and other activities common to all high schools.
    Morris worked on tracing paper in pencil and came up with some beautiful and fanciful drawings of birds. These pencil drawings were not useful in themselves, but we encouraged him to at least indicate the colors.
    Our high school was fortunate in having a very good printing press –and even a linotype machine.
    We took the drawings to the senior art class and, using the colored pencil drawings to cut linoleum blocks to match the colors he indicated. The result was some lovely activity-dividing pages printed on some heavy sand-colored paper covered with Morris’ beautiful birds in some very lively colors. He did relent to the original motif a little by providing a single “Thunderbird” which was embossed on the cover.
    As a result of his supberb artistic talent, the yearbook was awarded the classification of “All-American”, the highest grade nationally in yearbook grading. Remember, this was in 1932, a time when color printing was in its infancy, there were very few colored pages in any publication because of the expense of having to develop three-color separations in order have color printed in a publication.
    I still have two copies of the yearbook, one in good condition and the other in fair condition.
    I don’t believe these pictures have ever been released, so these yearbooks must have considerable value. I can furnish scanned copies of these drawings if you’re interested. Also, I intend to offer these books for sale on the internet.

  2. Dear Mr. Patureau,
    Are you the Authur Patureau who does pen and ink sketches? I recently found a lovely pen and ink artist proof # 122 out of 150 of “The River Theater” in San Antonio. Since I couldn’t find anything else on the web about you, I found this page where you posted this poignant tribute by Carolyn Kizer to Morris Graves and was wondering if any query made to this site might be forwarded to you. I am hoping that you are the artist of my beautiful little artist proof.

    Thanking you for a reply,
    Carole Ward

  3. Carole Ward–
    Yes, reckon I am the person referred to in your note. I have been doing pen-and-ink drawings for some twenty years now and have many series of sketches of various interesting areas, such as the Spanish missions of

    Carole Ward–
    Yes, reckon I am the artist referred to in your comments. I now have been doing pen and ink drawings for over twenty years and have several series of sketches of various interesting areas, such as the Spanish missions of California and Texas, the battleship “Texas”, Yosemite Park, and numerous favorite animals, and many others.
    I would like to hear from you.
    Art Patureau

  4. Hello,
    I too have found a piece of your work Mr.Patureau.
    “There’s always room at the top”.
    I did want to question if the piece originally had all the multiple colors in it?
    Thank you,

  5. Hello Mr. Patureau

    I bought a couple of piece from you back about 9 or 10 years ago at Bussey’s in San Antonio. I am referring to a beautiful pencil and water color of our Alamo numbered 214/450 and another one of a cowboy leaning to a side done in pencil only. I have had so many complements on the beauty and detail of your work. My question for you Sir is; I have someone that would like to buy the piece from me, and I don’t know what it might be worth. Believe me Mr. Patureau, I hate to sell the piece, but I need the funds to help my children who are in desperate need right now. As a father sometimes we have to part with something’s in life. My email is I thank you for your time and I pray that all is good for you and yours this holiday season.


    Alberto Sanchez

  6. I have been trying to locate Art for quite some time He and Clara were our very dear friends when they lived in Seguin. Clara passed away in April 2004. Art has either moved or passed away as he is no longer at his former address or phone#,If anyone knows anything I would like to hear from them.

  7. Hello, I too have some prints from Arthur Patureau. I have four numbered prints of Balboa Bay and Newport Beach. They were a gift from my mother who purchased them in an antique store in Orange California. Is there any bio information on the artist or valuation of his work? Thanks for any info.

    Danielle Guthrie

  8. Because I am in love with a Cowboy my good friend gave me one of her favorite pictures of a Cowboy. I love the picture which is a pen and ink drawn by Arthur Patureau. The picture is 109/750 “One for the Trail” There was a Bio on the back of the picture. Some general information included: Arthur Patureau is a graduate of the University of Texas College of Engineering, with post-graduate work from Penn State University and further art study at Ben Franklin’s Junto School in Philadelphia. He is a native Texan and operates his own studio at Lake McQueeney, Texas. He gave up a technical career to work as a professional artist. Thank you Arthur for this wonderful picture which I cherish. It notes that his studio is at The Waterfront E-4 Route 1 McQueeney, Texas 78123 (There is not a date noted on the picture, so not sure if the Studio is still there).

  9. I recently purchased 5 drawings of Arthur Patureau: the San Francisco Police Station; Hilton at San Antonio; 3 ducks “summit conference;” 3 fish; and a beautiful tree. The drawings are all matted and framed and have auction #s on the back of each one. I’m assuming the print #s are under the matting. Can anyone tell me more info on these? Thanks

  10. i am looking for someone who can help me i have came across what i belive are proofs negs and lithograph of every painting that aurthur patureau painted does anyone know what they may be worth or where i could go to see them

  11. Jan i have lithographs numbered 1-87 water colored prints limited edtions looking for Mr Patureaus Family

  12. Oh yes I think what your looking for may be under the matt what do these # mean do you know

  13. I have one of Art’s prints-Mission San Carlos, Carmel and I am looking for more to purchase. I absolutely love the one I have and would like more. Any suggestions? Thanks

  14. I have recently purchase a 30gallon rubbermaid tub filled with Art Patureau works, most are numbered prints. Some are colored. I am wanting to sell them does anyone know any values of the pieces. Feel free to email me for more details.

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