|Myra and Fred Wiggins, 1899|
(Image Gallery from Hallie Ford)
From the show description:
Myra Albert Wiggins (1869-1956) was a Salem photographer and early member of Alfred Stieglitz’s Photo-Secessionist Group. At the turn of the last century, Wiggins was considered one of the foremost women photographers in America. A major exhibition of her work will open February 14 and continue through April 26, 2015, in the Study Gallery and Print Study Center.
|The Albert House on Winter and Oak|
with Pringle Creek in flood
(the ER is now on the house site,
the house demolished; the view looks across
what became the blind school)
Born and raised in Salem, Oregon, Wiggins was a painter, poet and singer, as well as an instructor, essayist and speaker on art topics. But it was as a photographer that she established herself as an internationally recognized artist. From the late 1890s until 1910, her photographs were exhibited throughout the United States, as well as Paris, Vienna and London.
Wiggins attended Willamette University and Mills College, and in 1891 she began three years of study at the Art Students League in New York, where she received instruction from leading American painters William Merritt Chase, George DeForest Brush and Kenyon Cox. Her photographic interests prompted her to join the Society of Amateur Photographers of New York where she met and impressed a fellow member, Alfred Stieglitz, who was to become the most famous and influential photographer of the era.
|Albert-Wiggins Wedding, Nov 24th, 1894: Oregon State Library|
This is likely inside the Albert House
She returned to Salem and in 1894 she married Frederick Wiggins. During the next decade and half, Wiggins continued to gain recognition. She was especially known for her touching and award-winning pictorial Dutch genre photographs that focused on women and children. Her work won numerous prizes, including cash awards and even a trip to Paris in 1900.Apart from her photography, she has lots of transportation connections, and her life bridges the transition from bikes to cars.
As you may recall, she and Fred used bikes often, and Fred sold bikes at his "implement" shop.
|Fred Wiggins bike ad, 1904|
|Crashed July 5, 1905|
Died a few days later
Her father, John H. Albert, was wealthy and an important banker and investor in Salem industry. Unsurprisingly, he was involved in predecessors of the State Highway Commission.
Her mother, Mary Holman, also came from an important early Salem family. It is a sad, sad coda to her life that her death in 1905 likely represents Salem's first automobile fatality.
The show will almost certainly focus on her art, but there is a great web of early Salem history - transportation history and history generally! - that can be drawn radiating out with her at its center.
Postscript, Feb 14th
The Portland Art Museum has a ton of her imagery online!
Unfortunately for our interests, it's mostly the genre stuff and some travel things. There's very little that says, "Salem."
One exception is this street scene of a wagon in the mud. The building on the far right edge looks a little like the Post Office - now Gatke Hall - but it's very hard to say. It would have to be looking down Court or State street, and it's hard to match the rest of the building context. There's a lot of undeveloped, empty space, and the Post Office site was even at this time - 1903 and later than the estimate of 1895 for the image - more developed.
|"Salem Scene," circa 1895 - Portland Art Museum|