Margaret Lefranc and Alfred Rogoway

From 1955 to 1969 Margaret spent most of her time in Miami, Florida, taking care of her parents. Abraham had a heart attack and stroke and then dementia; and her mother knew little about business. Lefranc had to help because her older sister and brother could not. Divorced from Raymond Elton Schoonover before she left New York to live in Nambe, New Mexico, and without children, looking after her parents fell to Margaret. “My father thought it was funny that I was an artist…I was expendable. Women artists weren’t taken seriously.” [1] Margaret sold the Nambe house where she illustrated [2] and assisted in editing Alice Marriott six books. 

Lefranc donated ninety-two pieces of pottery and Apache baskets to what is now the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, University of Oklahoma [3]. This was the collection Lefranc exhibited artistically on a rust colored adobe wall in Nambe in a new living room which she had just finished building when Georgia O'Keeffe [4] and Maria Chabot [5] arrived for tea. "Georgia walked in, didn’t say a word, looked around very seriously and then turned to Maria and said, ‘Why can’t I have a room as beautiful as this?’” [6]

 

The artist lived independently from her parents in Miami. As Margaret explained in various interviews, “The house on Matheson Avenue…was the biggest, oldest, most dilapidated and cheapest house I could find,” [7] and one which she would repair.  Margaret exhibited at various museums in Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Florida, intermittently painting at her childhood farmhouse in Hunter, New York, all the while acting as caregiver for her parents in Miami. Margaret also managed her father’s real estate—an enormous piece of property in Coral Gables on which he constructed a large building and rented it to Johnson Control Company and an owner of a cafeteria. In addition, Margaret, Sophie, and her aunt Rose entered a partnership and bought from Abe three small adjacent lots in Coral Gables and built three stores which Margaret rented and managed. With rent from her Santa Fe home, proceeds from the sale of her house in Nambe, investing in the stock market her income from real estate management, and sales from her paintings, Lefranc was financially secure. The release from financial stress provided greater freedom in her art. Lefranc became well known as a judge in juried shows, was president of the Artist Equity in the State of Florida several times, made friends with other artists, and took art lessons at Miami University, “to see what the younger people were doing.” She was fifty years old.

Man with Wheelbarrow (1950) is a composition based on faceted areas of contrasting color in an exquisitely balanced color composition, with the generalized, or abstracted figure of the man holding the handles of a wheelbarrow, created out of the colored forms to give a recognizable focus in an otherwise abstract composition.

Lefranc was still friends with Marjorie Kieve [8], who had divorced Rudy Kieve, moved to Santa Fe, and married and divorced the son of an author.  They had one son, Steven. Margaret built her Santa Fe home within a mile of where Marjorie lived on Canyon Road also known as gallery row where Marjorie met Alfred Rogoway [9], an artist who loved adventure. Married, they moved to California, France, and Mexico, returning occasionally to Taos for visits. The same year Margaret moved to Miami, the Rogoways moved to New York, to the art scene Marjorie knew well from her days of working near the Guild Art Gallery Lefranc had funded and directed. Alfred became a top-selling artist and purchased a home in Long Island, but then they moved to Mexico, Europe, and finally Spain, where Marjorie died from Parkinson’s in 1983. Alfred returned to America to live with their daughter, Esther, also an artist, who had a studio in the back of her Arizona home where “Rog” spent the rest of his days painting. 

Rogoway's painting Contemplating with Music (1950) is an excellent example of his well-known style of distorted fairytale figures and vibrant colors.

 

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

[2] Indians on Horseback, 1948; The Valley Below, 1948; Maria:  The Potter of San Ildefonso, 1948; Indians of the Four Corners; 1952; Hell on Horse and Women; 1953; Dance Around the Sun; 1977. In addition, illustrations appeared in Southwest Review, Southern Methodist University Press, 1952, 1953, etc.; Sunstone Review, 1952 and later in 1977.

[3] Margaret Lefranc letters to Stephan Borhegyi, Ph.D, Director University Museum, University of Oklahoma, Norman, April 17, 1956, and August 23, 1956 and letter from Stephan Borhegyi, Ph.D., April 20, 1956.

[4] Georgia O’Keeffe (1887–1986, American Modernist artist.

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

[6] Lois Katz, A Lifetime of Imaging:  The Art of Margaret Lefranc, Op. cit., pg. 166, and Margaret Lefranc talks about Georgia O’Keeffe, January 4, 1997.

[7] Margaret Lefranc interview with Michael Koster, January 2, 1997, for article in Pasatiempo, January 17–23, 1997, re:  St. John’s College Exhibition.

[8] Marjorie Goldberg/Golden Kieve  (1906?–1982/3). Santa Fe New Mexican, August 2, 1944, pg. 10, Marjorie Kieve, Kestrel O’Maher Wed.  An announcement…of the marriage of Marjorie Kieve of Santa Fe to Kestral Alan O’Maher of New York City…The Bridegroom, who is the son of Kathleen Coyle, novelist, is now at the naval training station, San Diego, California.

[9] Alfred Rogoway (1900–1990), artist who painted sensitively distorted figures.