Celebrating Labor Day Art!

Labor Day – the perfect day to celebrate antique and vintage labor posters and other labor related art.

Some honor home front workers supporting the war effort. Many support and celebrate the union labor movement, which brought so many important rights to American workers.

Woman Labor – 1912

Some are 1930’s WPA posters – the Works Progress Administration which, thanks to Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, employed the unemployed and helped bring us out of the Great Depression.

The “Free Labor Will Win” poster represents fighting the Axis dictators in World War II (which had “unfree” labor) combined with President Roosevelt’s positive policies toward organized labor unions.

There are Women’s labor posters, anti child-labor posters, etc. I’ve also included a labor related US stamp and the movie poster from the great movie, Metropolis, about a shining Art Deco city which is powered by thousands of poor abused workers living underground.

Come on in to the Midtown Mercantile Mall at 4443 E. Speedway in Tucson, Arizona. We have many merchants who sell vintage art. There just might be some of these old labor posters in the mall right now. If you hang a few of these on your wall you will have a wonderful historic collection, and they are beautiful as well!

Carol Fenn 9-2017

MAYNARD DIXON ~ Much More Than A Winter Visitor

I recently found this little old painting of indian ponies.

My little Indian Ponies painting

It immediately made me think of the famous American artist and long-ago Tucson resident, Maynard Dixon.  He spent his winters here.  And he died here.  But he was much more than a winter visitor.  I think whoever painted these ponies might have been inspired by his work. Now I didn’t pay much for my modest little work of art, but a 1941 Arizona painting by Dixon, shown below, and titled, The Coming Storm, sold for $520,000 in 2011.

Maynard Dixon The Coming Storm 1941, Tucson, AZ

Maynard Dixon was born in 1875 in Fresno, California. He grew up in the midst of some interesting characters – his aristocratic Confederate family, mountain men, and vaqueros. He started sketching at the age of seven and at a very young age he sent Frederic Remington two of his sketchbooks. Receiving encouragement from Remington, he decided to become a professional artist. Early on he accepted numerous illustration jobs. He got work from several San Francisco newspapers, etc.

Dixon went to work for the San Francisco Examiner in 1899. His reputation as an illustrator grew and soon he was working as a free lance artist for many publications including Harper’s Weekly, Sunset Magazine, etc.

Soon Dixon decided to find “the real west.” He traveled to New Mexico, Arizona and Utah. Here he worked as a wrangler, studied the daily doings of a cowboy, inhaled the stark beauty of the desert southwest, and became sympathetic and wonderfully observant of the lives of native Americans.

This sojourn to the West in 1912 was prompted by a desire to portray the realistic West he knew was there, rather than the mythic West the New York illustrators wanted him to portray. At this point he gave up illustration.

From 1912 on, Dixon was recognized as a painter. Meeting and marrying Dorothea Lange, the famous American photographer, had a great influence on his art. They married in 1920 and by 1925 his style had changed dramatically to even more powerful compositions, with the emphasis on shape and color. A true modernist was born. His low horizons and cloud formations, mysteriously simplified, became his trademark.

Known not only for his composition, his use of our desert colors is unparalleled, as in this New Mexico painting.

Dixon’s second wife was the San Francisco muralist, Edith Hamlin. In 1939, the couple built a summer home in Mount Carmel, Utah near a stand of cottonwood trees. They spent the colder months here in Tucson, where they also had a home and studio. It was here in Tucson that he created some of his most stunning landscapes.
In 1946, Maynard died at his winter home in Tucson. In the spring of 1947, his widow Edith brought his ashes to Mount Carmel where she buried them on a high bluff.


If you are a dealer keep an eye out for works by Dixon. After all, he lived here. He painted here. He died here. Certainly his art is here.

#maynarddixon, #tucsonarizona

CJ Fenn, 2016

Tucson’s Josias Joesler and That Joesler Blue

“Joesler Village” “That estate sale was in a Joesler house.” “Joesler blue” … These are some of the things you will hear if you live in Tucson. But what does it all mean?

Josias Joesler was born in 1895 in Zurich. His architectural legacy would eventually come to articulate the romantic revival Tucson style of the first half of the 20th century.

Josias and Natividad Joesler

He was educated in Germany and France, he lived in Spain, Cuba, Los Angeles. He married his wife Natividad and the two moved to Tucson in 1927.  Soon he became very busy designing commercial and residential buildings with his signature style.

Broadway Village

A very prolific architect, his buildings, commercial and residential, feature traditional southwestern hand crafted decorative motifs. Some of these include hand applied plaster, open brick work, hand hewn beams, colored concrete floors and decorative iron and tin work. Often the instant you walk into a Joesler house you will recognize it as such. If you walk in and instead of seeing a living room wall in front of you, you see a big plate glass window looking into the back yard, a good guess would be, “Joesler.” He embraced the idea of open spaces and being able to see out into nature.  And the accent color on many of the doors, woodwork around windows, etc. is in a beautiful soft blue.

His major surviving commercial architectural buildings are spread throughout Tucson. There are a few on Fourth Avenue.  A good example is the Broadway Village Shopping center on the corner of Country Club and Broadway. Other major commercial buildings include Saint Philips Church at Campbell and River Road, St. Michaels Episcopal Church at 5th and Wilmot, the Hacienda Del Sol Guest Ranch, and the original old Ghost Ranch Lodge on Miracle Mile.

Hacienda Del Sol Guest Ranch

Many of his residential buildings are in the Catalina Foothills Estates and in the Historic Blennman-Elm Neighborhood and there is a string of his homes on Country Club just south of Broadway.

And that “Joesler blue?” … some might call it cornflower blue, but since Josias Joesler used it as an accent on so many of his projects, if you live in Tucson you call it Joesler blue!

Carol Fenn

“A Spot of Beauty” – Rose Cabat

A couple of years ago when the Tucson Museum of art had a major exhibition of her work, I was lucky enough to meet Rose Cabat. I’ve always thought it was so interesting that this famous 4th. Avenue ceramicist was so well known by collectors all over the world, but here in Tucson I meet people all the time who do not know of her, or her work.  

Rose working in her studio

Rose Cabat (June 27, 1914 – January 25, 2015) was an American studio ceramicist who was best known for her innovative glazes on small porcelain pots that she called “feelies.” These are often in the shape of onions and figs.   Rose continued making pottery even at the age of 100.  She was the oldest living, actively working, ceramicist in America. She lived in Tucson.

After WWII Rose made crafty ceramics such as wind bells, animal figurines, etc. to help support the family. Meanwhile, her husband Erni worked in Tucson as a graphic artist and in advertising. They became friends with local artists, and helped to start the Art Center, the forerunner of the Tucson Museum of Art. 

Rose and Erni Cabat, mid twentieth century



In 1956, Rose and Erni took a pottery glazing class at the University of Hawaii. Thus began the development of glaze formulas which were later applied to those “feelie” forms that become Rose Cabat’s most famous works. In about 1960, she hit upon the basic form of the vessel which would become the foundation of the “feelies.” She created a pot with a delicate closed neck, which could not even hold a single slender flower stem. She said,

 “A vase can hold weeds or flowers, but can’t it just be a spot of beauty?”

By 1966, Rose Cabat was beginning to be recognized as a craft artist, with an exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The Tucson Art Museum loaned one of Rose Cabat’s blue-green feelies to the mansion of the Vice President, Walter Mondale, to be displayed in his living room along with other works of art.

 Now about those “feelies.” Yes, they do have a different “feel” than any other pottery. They have been described as sensual with an unforgettable texture. The silky satiny glaze has even been called almost spiritual. If you ever get the opportunity to hold one you will see what I mean.  

As the Antiques Roadshow appraiser, David Rago has said, “While some modern studio pottery is intellectual or even angst-ridden, the work of Rose Cabat … expresses pure joy in its design and decoration.”

Cabat pieces on display at an American Art pottery show and sale

I have been lucky enough to own a piece by Rose Cabat. It came from the estate of Berta Wright, another mid to late twentieth century Tucson resident who also made many contributions to the mid century modern movement. It’s also hard to find people who know who she was. Ah, Tucson. So many interesting people have called you home. 

Carol Fenn 1-2017

“Bear Down” Arizona! – A Bit of History

Football began at The University of Arizona in 1899 under the nickname “Varsity.” This name lasted until the 1914 season when the team was re-named the “Wildcats.” For several years, from 1915 into the 1950s, the team had real live bobcats (!) as their mascot. In 1959 the real bobcats were out and in came humans in Wildcat costumes.

First U of A football team, 1899

Vintage “Wildcat”

Now, the Wildcats is a great name for a sports team, and the wildcat mascot is certainly appropriate. But a wildcat is not a bear and a bear is not a wildcat so why the U of A slogan, “Bear Down?”

Early U of A football practice

In 1926, John “Button” Salmon was the student body president as well as the starting quarterback for the wildcat football team. An all-around athlete, Salmon was also the catcher for the university baseball team.   The day after the first game of the 1926 football season, Salmon and two of his friends were in a car which ran off the highway and flipped over in a ravine near Florence, Arizona. Salmon’s friends escaped without injury, but Salmon suffered a severe spinal cord injury. After the accident, U of A football coach Pop McKale visited him in the hospital every day. During McKale’s last visit, Salmon’s last message to his teammates was, “Tell them.. tell the team to bear down.” John Salmon soon died on October 18, 1926. Before the next football game against the Aggies of New Mexico State, McKale told the team what their quarterback had said. The U of A won that game in a hard-fought victory, 7-0.

Bear Down Arizona!

The following year, in 1927, the University of Arizona student body adopted the slogan for use with all Wildcat athletic teams. That year, the Chain Gang, a junior honorary organization at the UA, held a dance in the newly constructed university gymnasium to raise funds to paint the slogan on the roof of the gymnasium. The words are still featured on the roof, now known as Bear Down Gym.  On the U of A Lowell-Stevens football facility a bust of Salmon was erected.  It is said that Arizona football players pass and touch the bust as a show of tribute before every home game.

COME TO OUR ONE DAY “POP UP” that lasts ALL YEAR!  Saturday, September 16th.  Time: 10 am to 6 pm.  U of A Students, Faculty and Employees Only Receive 15% OFF your entire purchase this day! 10% off the entire year!   Midtown Mercantile Antique Mall 4443 E Speedway, Tucson AZ.

John Salmon bust on the University campus

Carol Fenn 9-2017




Monterey Furniture “In Old Arizona”

Monterey Furniture refers to several distinctive furniture lines made from 1930 to the mid-1940s in California. It derived its character from Spanish revival style, the California missions and their furnishings, ranch furnishings, and cowboy accessories.

Original Spanish revival, Barker Bros postcard

Monterey furniture

Mason Manufacturing Company, founded by Frank Mason, is credited with the original style. Other lines were made by Imperial Company, Angeles Furniture Company (the line called Coronado), Del Rey, Brown and Saltman, and even Sears (La Fiesta.). Original Mason Monterey stands out from these other lines with it’s superior quality and heavy hand wrought iron strapping.

Monterey “prohibition” bar. The tile top slides forward revealing a hidden compartment.

Monterey by Mason came in just a few distinct finishes and in the beginning most pieces had some sort of decorative elements, such as a lively squiggle, or a floral decoration. The Mexican cartoonist Juan Intenoche headed the paint department, and the most valuable pieces of Monterey contain his whimsical designs. Donkeys, bucking horses and bulls, sleeping men under wide hats, cactus and other images are his trademark.

The whimsical art of Juan Intenoche.

Mason branded most of their furniture with a horseshoe and the name, “Monterey,” though not all are branded. Smoke from the branding occasionally was too thick for the workers; on those days they simply stopped branding.

Making and painting Monterey furniture c 1932

Hollywood, via Barker Brothers Furniture co., was influential in the original creation of Mason’s furniture line. Barker Brothers approached Frank Mason with the idea of creating a line of furniture based on furniture seen in an old (1929) cowboy movie, “In Old Arizona.” Spanish revival homes were being built all over Los Angeles and Barker Brothers, smartly, wanted a line of furniture that would complement the style of those homes. Hence the birth of Monterey furniture.

In The Midtown Mercantile Mall – main floor

Come on into the Midtown Mercantile Antique Mall. 4443 E. Speedway, Tucson AZ. You just might find some Monterey or Monterey style furniture!

Carol Fenn 8-2018

The Arizona Rough Riders

Rough Riders was the name given to the 1st United States Volunteer Cavalry, a response to the understaffing of the United States Army as a result of the American Civil War. A young Theodore Roosevelt was offered the command of this regiment to fight in the Spanish-American War. While Theodore desperately wanted to be part of the fight he was smart enough to realize that he did not have the necessary experience to command a combat regiment. He deferred command to his friend Col. Leonard Wood, a Medal of Honor winner from the Indian Wars, while he accepted a commission and second-in-command as a Lt. Colonel. 

Rough Riders

Arizona Rough Riders

The regiment’s number was 1200 volunteers. Of those 300 (25%) came from Arizona! The Rough Rider’s ranks included cowboys, indians, socialites, polo players and just average citizens who responded to the nation’s call to arms. The majority of its other members came from Texas, New Mexico and New York. One of the volunteers from Arizona was Bucky O’Neill.

Bucky O’Neill

In the late 1800s, the charismatic Bucky O’Neill, had travelled west to the Arizona territory. He started a newspaper, formed a posse to track down train robbers, became mayor of Prescott, AZ, and was generally full of adventure. During his time as mayor of Prescott, he volunteered to become a Rough Rider. 

Bucky O’Neill was the first to enlist and he put together all of the 300 Rough Riders from Arizona. He then set sail with Teddy Roosevelt to Cuba. Roosevelt wrote endearingly about O’Neill’s character, recounting how O’Neill was the only man to dive into the sea when two black soldiers fell overboard. Shortly afterward, Roosevelt would be devastated when the 38-year-old captain was killed in the battle of San Juan Hill. Upon O’Neill’s young death, Theodore Roosevelt wrote this about him:

Statue of Bucky O’Neill

“The most serious loss that I and the regiment could have suffered befell just before we charged. O’Neill was strolling up and down in front of his men, smoking his cigarette, for he was inveterately addicted to the habit. He had a theory that an officer ought never to take cover—a theory which was, of course, wrong, though in a volunteer organization the officers should certainly expose themselves very fully, simply for the effect on the men; our regimental toast on the transport running, ‘The officers; may the war last until each is killed, wounded, or promoted.’ As O’Neill moved to and fro, his men begged him to lie down, and one of the sergeants said, ‘Captain, a bullet is sure to hit you.’ O’Neill took his cigarette out of his mouth, and blowing out a cloud of smoke laughed and said, ‘Sergeant, the Spanish bullet isn’t made that will kill me.’ A little later he discussed for a moment with one of the regular officers the direction from which the Spanish fire was coming. As he turned on his heel a bullet struck him in the mouth and came out at the back of his head; so that even before he fell his wild and gallant soul had gone out into the darkness.”

If you would like to read more about Bucky O’Neill and the Arizona Rough Riders there is a wonderful book, “The Arizona Rough Riders,” written by a Tucson man, Charles (Charlie) Herner. The book is in your local library and is also available on Amazon. 

Carol Fenn 5-2018


The Tucson Rodeo ~ No Moonshine Allowed!

The Tucson Rodeo will be here soon.  I thought it would be fun to look at the history of this local institution.

The very first Tucson Rodeo was held in 1925 during the era of Prohibition. Tucson was a pretty wild, hard drinkin’ cowboy town, so a force of federal officials made the decision to “clean up” the city prior to the rodeo. They captured 25 stills, and an estimated 3000 gallons of moonshine was destroyed. Yep, moonshine in Tucson!

No more moonshine for you or your horse!

In 1925, a Mr. Leighton Kramer and the Arizona Polo Association created La Fiesta de los Vaqueros and the Tucson Mid-Winter Rodeo and Parade. The event would give visitors a taste of cowboy range work and glamorize Tucson’s Wild West notoriety. Without the Wild West drinking of course!

1920’s rodeo

Fun fact: Prizes at the 1925 Rodeo Parade included a 750-lb. block of ice, 100 lbs. of potatoes and a “Big Cactus” ham.

1920’s “ice man” … Where would you like your ice lady?

Tourists, cowboys and cowgirls, and local high society members all enjoyed the very first Tucson Rodeo.

And thousands of spectators crowded the downtown parade route.

Tucson rodeo parade

The first Tucson Rodeo was held at Kramer Field, (yes, that Mr. Kramer!), now a neighborhood called Catalina Vista, east of Campbell Boulevard between Grant and Elm Streets.

After a few years the rodeo was moved to the abandoned municipal airport field at South 6th Avenue and Irvington Road.

Vintage Tucson Rodeo poster

The rodeo has evolved to where the prizes are bigger and the crowds are bigger.

Cowgirls compete in barrel racing and you’ll usually see a pretty girl galloping around with an American flag.

Sometimes the cowboys win.

Sometimes the cowboys lose.

Sometimes you are witness to kindness between creatures. At the rodeo you see it all!

The 2017 Tucson Rodeo is February 18-26 at the Tucson Rodeo Grounds, 4823 S. 6th Ave.

So get out your vintage cowboy boots. Your vintage janglin’ spurs. Your cowboy hats, shirts and belts and enjoy the rodeo!

Carol Fenn 1-2017

~ A French Country Kitchen in Tucson ~

If you come into the Midtown Mercantile Mall right now you might not smell French cooking but you will certainly visualize it. Upstairs in the gazebo you’ll find everything you’ll need to make your own kitchen start speaking with a French accent! Oui oui!  

Upstairs in the gazebo ~ Our French Country Kitchen

You’ll find antique cutting boards, copper molds, bundt pans, heavy copper pots, French decorative plates, serving pieces, rolling pins, madeleine molds, wooden spoons, ironstone bowls, bread molds, beautiful antique olive buckets, vintage cookbooks, etc., etc.  

Madeleine anyone?

Vintage cutting boards

Don’t forget to look up! Check out those copper pots.

Antique copper fish mold

Vintage rolling pins

Once you’ve decorated your kitchen here’s a somewhat simplified recipe for “coq au vin” that you can make in your crockpot. Then, you you can experience the aroma of your own “French country kitchen.”

“Coq au Vin”

8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs 
Salt and pepper to taste

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour 

4 slices bacon, roughly chopped 

3 tablespoons unsalted butter or extra-virgin olive oil, divided 

1 (12-ounce) package white or baby bella mushrooms, quartered 

2 carrots, chopped 

1 medium yellow onion, chopped 

2 cloves garlic, chopped 

1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth 

1 1/2 cup red wine 

2 large sprigs fresh thyme


Arrange chicken on a large sheet of waxed paper. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Lightly coat chicken all over with flour and set aside.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until golden and just crisp, 3 minutes. Drain bacon on paper towels and set aside. Discard drippings and wipe out skillet. Melt 2 tablespoons butter (or heat oil, if using) in same skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken and cook until lightly browned all over, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to a large plate as done and set aside.
Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter or oil in same skillet. Add mushrooms and cook until edges begin to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Add carrots, onions, garlic and salt and cook until vegetables just begin to soften. Transfer vegetables and broth to crock pot. Arrange chicken on top. Sprinkle bacon over chicken. Add wine and thyme sprigs. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 7 hours. Season with salt and pepper, then serve.  Enjoy!

Carol Fenn 2-2017

Back To School – Back Then!

Back in the day, before the first day of school, (which used to be mid-September) your Mom or Dad would take you shopping for new clothes and new shoes.

Shopping at one of those newfangled “shopping malls.”

No self service shoes back then

We loved our lunch boxes

In those days, the clothes, no matter how much they cost, a lot or a little, were quality, finely made, and they lasted until you grew out of them. And this was probably the only time you got new clothes until the next year.
After you were done shopping for clothes you might get treated to a brand new lunch box. Which one should you get? Yogi Bear, Peanuts, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Popeye, Underdog, Huckleberry Hound, Mary Poppins, Hee Haw, Batman, Julia, The Flintstones, or what? There were so many! Why is it so hard to pick?

So many to choose from!

Last, grab a composition book, a pack of pencils and maybe a cool pencil box. That’s all you needed. Everything else was supplied by the school.  Oh, and hopefully your mom will save some paper grocery bags so that you can cover your textbooks with them.

We didn’t have to pay for books but we had to protect them

Today, kids go back to school in the middle of summer and parents receive the school’s annual list of classroom supplies that they must purchase and deliver. It can be three or four pages long and can include, several cleaning products and even a Costco-sized package of toilet paper. It might even include a huge bag of flour! This is in addition to the school supplies for your own child. Masks, a backpack, paper, pens, folders, notebooks, a calligraphy set, fifteen new apps for their tablets, a graphing calculator, a scalpel, an electron microscope and a centrifuge. And clothing? You’ll be buying clothes all year because today’s clothes only last thru maybe a half a dozen laundry cycles. Doesn’t sound like much fun does it? And not to mention the expense. Many parents cannot afford all of these items, hence the school supply drives that pop up this time of year.

And I’m certainly not a snob about how people dress but just check out the difference in the crossing guards then and now.



Hey, to beat those back to school blues come on in to The Mercantile at 4443 E. Speedway, Tucson AZ.  You might find one of those old lunch boxes to help bring back those “back in the day” memories.

Carol Fenn 8-2017