Pipe Plant by Holland FOSTER, 1933-34
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D. C.
Artist Holland FOSTER was born in Caledonia, Iowa, March 15, 1906, the son of Homer A. FOSTER (1870-1946) and
Beatrice Cecil (HOLLAND) FOSTER (1872-1910). Holland married Dora Lucinda RANSOM (1907-1990). Holland
and Dora were the parents of five children: Norman Holland (1934-1999), Homer Ransom, Robert Harry,
Alexander Elliot, and Susan Jean FOSTER. Holland FOSTER died June 12, 1984, Palm Springs, California.
Holland studied under Grant WOOD, John Fabian CARLSON, and Leon KROLL. He attended Columbia University, the National
Academy of Design, and the School of Art Institute at Chicago, Illinois. He was known for his landscape and seascape
paintings and his sculptures.
Hillside in Winter by Holland FOSTER, 1970
Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, October of 2011
Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, September 10, 2015, Page 14
By Mike Avitt
The back of the photo says the boy is the son of a local chalet owner. Orr [Fisher] and Holland Foster went to Colorado in 1926 for
the purpose of painting landscapes. Fortunately, Mr. Foster recorded much of the trip in his book, "The Ghost Town of Caledonia."
Most of the information
I have about this trip comes from the Caledonia book, but first I'll tell you who Holland Foster was. He was born February 15, 1906 in Caledonia. His father,
Homer Foster, at different times, owned the Princess Theater, the Star Theater, and a grocery store in Mount Ayr. Holland's uncle, Homer Holland was
(in my humble opinion) Ringgold County's greatest athlete excelling in track & field and baseball. Like Orr Fisher, Holland Foster became an artist and studied
under Grant Wood at the University of Iowa. Mr. Foster eventually found his way to New York state where he became an art teacher and was involved with several
art-related councils and organizations. In 1978, he wrote a book which covers many topics including his trip to Colorado with fellow artist Orr Fisher.
The trip to Colorado was made in a 1917 Maxwell automobile which our artistic duo affectionately named "Max." Leaving in August of 1926, the first overnight
campsite was in Hastings, Nebraska. They reached Garden of the Gods in Colorado the second day. Orr's first painting was a panorama which he painted on
"Max." On their third day
in Colorado, Orr and Holland picked up Julius Blunck and gave him a ride to his brother's place. Afterwards, "Max" took the boys higher into the mountains.
Orr and Holland took hundreds of photographs on this trip. Orr was a much faster painter than Holland so the trip produced many Orr Fisher paintings. After
Orr's death, Holland purchased several of the Colorado paintings from Orr's niece, Donna Howard.
There is a very personal item that has made its way
back to Mount Ayr from this trip so many years ago and that is a protective case which Orr and Holland used to hold their paintings once they were finished. It
is now the property of the Mount Ayr Public Library.
When Orr Fisher's niece, Donna Howard, died, she left her personal effects to Iowa State University.
They in turn contacted non-profit entities for the purpose of getting Orr Fisher's paintings back into the public. Bob and Kay Sickels went to Ames and
have brought back twelve paintings for the Mount Ayr Depot Musuem and the Iowa State University Extension Office.
Kathy Hemann went to Ames on behalf
of the Mount Ayr Public Library and brought back one painting and the protective case used to hold finished paintings on the 1926 trip. And, of course, the
protective case, which was so large it had to be carried on the running board, has an Orr Fisher painting on it.
Holland Foster also created the
diorama of Caledonia
on display at the Ringgold County Historical Society Museum in Ellston. His book about Caledonia was copyrighted in 1978 when Holland was 72 years old.
Next time I hope to have some information about Orr Fisher's personal life.
Photograph courtesy of Mount Ayr Record-News
Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, October of 2015