Margaret Lefranc and Annette Rada

Margaret Lefranc’s gift of 77 pots shipped to the University of Oklahoma’s Stovall Museum includes work for the Acoma, Casa, Grande, Nambe, Picuris, Santa Clara, San Juan, Zia, and Zuni Pueblos in New Mexico. Lefranc who moved from Nambe thought the Stovall Museum would be the best place for her collection.”[1]   Lefranc exhibited these pots artistically on shelves in front of a rust colored adobe wall in Nambe in a new living room which she had just finished building when Georgia O’Keeffe [2] and Maria Chabot [3] arrived for tea.  “Georgia walked in, looked around very seriously and then turned to Maria and said, ‘Why can’t I have a room as beautiful as this!’”[4] 

 It was understandable with Lefranc having opened museums in public places with Alice Marriott in Oklahoma and New Mexico which included collecting personal potchards, baskets and pottery that Theresa Goell,[5] Lefranc’s deaf childhood friend and archaeologist, would approach Lefranc over the years to encourage Lefranc to accompany her on various digs in Turkey.  Tempted, Lefranc did not succumb.  Goell’s excavations became well-known for uncovering the colossal stone heads for which Nemrud Dagh is famed.  In the New York Times article, a picture of the colossal head of Herucules-Artagnes is standing near the unopened tomb of Antiochus I, King of Commagene atop Mount Nimrud, Turkey.[6]  

For several years Margaret lived in Miami with the landscape of New Mexico in her mind.  She walked around looking at palmettos and thinking of Nambe and New Mexico landscapes.  At first, in Miami, the only landscape that she loved was the ocean.   Eventually she found creative kindred spirits and adjusted—except to the humidity.  She wound up dividing her time between Miami and Hunter, New York, for at least three months of the year.  She was financially able to do so, and she had Annette and Rudi Rada, her photographer friends, to look in on her parents and to call her if she needed to return from New York. During this period, she was also exhibiting in the Museum of New Mexico Art Gallery, when one of her paintings was selected to hang in Governor John F. Simms [7] office.

According to Jeffrey M. Caylor, a neighbor of Margaret’s in Coconut Grove, Florida, in a 2007 letter which he wrote [8] “…Dear Margaret was called “Chopin,” as the melodic strains of Polonaise in A-flat major and the like issued from her baby grand and could be heard floating throughout the neighborhood like birdsong on a quiet Sunday morning.“The Musicians, 1959, was exhibited at the Miami Beach Art Center with published comments.[9]  “M. Lefranc can lay claim to the title artist on the strength of…Musicians… done in a semi-abstract manner.” Margaret also become involved in the Recorder Workshop with various of her friends and did a series in gouache and illustrations which evidently resulted from the visit here last winter of the Vienna Octet. “Her lithograph, Octet, is striking and vital and her Audrey, a sensitive etching portrait” [10] are now at the annual print show at the Mirell Gallery, Coconut Grove… Margaret Lefranc is having her first one-man showing here at the Recorder Workshop, Coconut Grove…a cross-section of this painter’s excellent work in graphics, watercolors and mixed painting media.[11] 

The Recorder Players, 1957, by Anette Rada was one of various photographs which Lefranc’s friend took consisting of a number of works of similar musical theme and demonstrates the two women’s involvement in the culture of Miami at the time as the two associated with musicians and participated in many musical events. 

 

[1] Daily Oklahoman, Gift from Margaret Lefranc, September 1956.  It was under the direction of Stephan Borhagyi.    

[2] Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986), an American Modernist artist.

[3] Maria Chabot (1913-2001), friend of Georgia O’Keeffe, a rancher and advocate of Indian art.

[4] Lois Katz, A Lifetime of Imaging:  The Art of Margaret Lefranc, Nouveau Ventures © Margaret Lefranc Art Foundation, pg. 191.

[5] Theresa Goell, (1901-1985), an American archaeologist.

[6] The New York Times, Data on ‘Lost Hittite Culture Dug Up: Relics in Turkey Hint Old Mode Lasted Till Christ’s Time, Sunday, Jan. 2, 1955, by Welles Hangen.  (Special to the New York Times.)

[7] Governor John F. Simms (1916-1975), Judge and 16th Governor from New Mexico from 1955-1957.

[8] Lois Katz, A Lifetime of Imaging: The Art of Margaret Lefranc, Nouveau Ventures © Margaret Lefranc Art Foundation, pg. 260.

[9] Miami Sunday News, June 30, 1957, Nellie Bower, Miami News Art Editor.

[10]Miami Herald, Music and Art, Sunday, April 7, 1957, 19-E. by Doris Reno, Herald Music and Art Editor.

[11] Lefranc Art Has Warmth and Character, The Miami Herald, Sunday, February 2, 1958, 19-#