EARLY ARTISTS & CRAFTSMEN OF THE OLD FORT LOWELL NEIGHBORHOOD
Submitted by Ann Hughart Branham
1934 – 1960s: Dutch brothers Charles & Pete Bolsius, and Pete’s wife Nan Bolsius, spotted the ruins of the Post Trader’s Store at 5325 East Fort Lowell on a trip to Tucson from Santa Fe. They bought and restored it, with Nan & Charles hand carving doors and beams and sculpting a santo. Later they bought the adjacent Quartermaster’s Commissary, restoring it in the same way. Charles was a painter, having studied at the Hague; Pete’s primary role was to earn the money which supported all three during the restorations, but he also worked with tin, making candelabras, frames and lamps.
1940s: Ivan Burkhart – photographer. Ivan had a studio downtown in Ash Alley, location of many artists in the 1940s. He & his wife Marguerite lived at 5320 East Fort Lowell. During the mid-40s, he took publicity photographs of Veronica Hughart’s H Cross dude ranch near Bonita.
1946 – 1998: Edward & Rosamond Spicer – cultural anthropologists, lived at 5344 East Fort Lowell.. Roz was also a painter, photographer and sketched in pencil or ink. They have many anthropological publications to their names. Roz painted & donated a portrait of the Virgen de Guadalupe to San Pedro Chapel. She made adobes to enlarge their house, built bookcases and kitchen cabinets, and wired and plumbed it. Both were founding members of the Old Fort Lowell Neighborhood Association, and Roz worked avidly to preserve the neighborhood history.
1949: Alan Harrington – novelist. Friend of Jack Kerouac who, along with Neil Cassidy (and other travelling companions) spent several days with Alan and his mother Gywneth and her husband, Juan Xavier, while on their famous trip. Their Fort Lowell Road stop was recounted in Kerouac’s novel, “On The Road”. Alan lived at 5328 East Fort Lowell from 1949 – 1950, and elsewhere in the neighborhood in the 1970s.
1952 – 1977: Veronica Barry Hughart – painter; house designer/builder. Moved to the neighborhood in 1952. Bought, remodeled and enlarged her own home at 5309 East Fort Lowell, and did the same with four mud adobe homes on Beverly, south of Fort Lowell. She built other homes in the neighborhood, the foothills, eastside Tucson and in Elgin, and remodeled or enlarged others around Tucson.
1950’s: Madame Cheruy – artist, lived on Craycroft just north of Fort Lowell Street. Her husband had been the French Ambassador to the United States before they moved to Tucson.
1950s: Winnie Yates – painter, furniture decorator in Mexican folk art style. Lived in one of the small Isidro Ochoa-built homes along Fort Lowell.
1950s: Keith Martin, a dentist who also built furniture, lived in the Commissary. He was married to J.D. Martin, a reporter and book reviewer.
1950s: Giorgio Belloli – sculptor, ironsmith, furniture maker Giorgio was born in Italy, lived in New Mexico, and came to the neighborhood in the early 1950s. He lived in and remodeled several homes along Fort Lowell (originally built by Isidro Ochoa, born in the comisario in 1902), adding fireplaces & sculptures. He married neighborhood resident Louise Murray and moved with her to Marfil, Mexico, where he bought the buildings of an old silver mine, restoring it into a magnificent hacienda, using men from the village whom he trained in stone masonry. He obtained old Mexican artwork, doors and furniture, which he sent to Ve Hughart to be used in her houses.
1950s-1960s: Robert Knowe – artist. Bob lived and stayed in various homes along Fort Lowell, while teaching at Greenfields School (then a boarding school for boys).
1950s to present: Cuauhtemoc Garcia – carpenter and craftsman – moved from Mexico with his wife and 12 children, settling near his parents on El Callejøn. Cuauhtemoc worked for Charles, Pete and Nan Bolsius, helping restore their two historic buildings. Later he crafted 15 pews for the San Pedro Chapel, using wood from Huges Aircraft Co. (which came from boxes carrying missile parts). He made a tabernacle for the Chapel, which is now in La Capillita, a small, accurate model of the Chapel, and a shrine in front of his home to the Virgen de Guadalupe. He makes wooden toys for his grandchildren.
1962-1989: Charles Bodé – painter, sculptor, wood carver. He used desert materials as inspiration in his art, and also painted in the style of 19th century Mexican art. He was known for his carved and painted santos, a large number of whom adorned his kitchen cabinets in his first home in the neighborhood on San Francisco. He and his partner, a teacher, lived at 5354 East Fort Lowell.
1964 – 1980: Byrd Baylor – novelist. She completed one of her best known books, “Yes is Better than No”, while living in a small house on San Francisco Blvd.
1960s: Ruth Phipps – jewelry designer and copper worker. Ruth sold her creations locally, mostly at Desert House on Campbell, where many Tucson artists were represented in the 1960s.
1960s: Jack Maul – painter. Lived on the Spicer property at 5344 East Fort Lowell.
1960s: Juan Xavier – fireplace builder, adobe maker, guide to anthropologists and to artist Ted deGrazia. A Papago (now Tohono O’odham) shaman, he was married to anthropologist Gwyneth Harrington; they lived in the front house at 5354 East Fort Lowell.
19?? -1990: Nik Krevitsky – painter, dancer, fabric designer. Director of TUSD’s art program. Owned and lived in San Pedro Chapel, “loaning” it to the neighborhood for events. After his death his family sold the Chapel to the Old Fort Lowell Neighborhood at a reduced price.
1970 – present: Barry Hughart – novelist and screenwriter. Son of Veronica Hughart. Author of the trilogy beginning with “Bridge of Birds”, which won the World Fantasy Award, 1984.
1970 – present: Ruth Brown – weaver, textile designer, fabric art. Ruth also sold her work at Desert House and later had a studio on Ted deGrazia’s property at Campbell and Prince. An inveterate traveler, her house is filled with treasures from native bazaars from all over the world, and she incorporates many of them in her work.
2000 – present: Barry Spicer – wildlife biologist, writer. Son of Ned and Roz Spicer, Barry grew up in the Old Fort Lowell neighborhood, left after college, and returned to live here in 2000. He has written two books on common native plants, wildlife and landscaping in the Old Fort Lowell neighborhood.