Academic journal article The Journal of Baha'i Studies

Anne Gould Hauberg and Mark Tobey: Lives Lived for Art, Cultivated by Spirit

Academic journal article The Journal of Baha'i Studies

Anne Gould Hauberg and Mark Tobey: Lives Lived for Art, Cultivated by Spirit

Article excerpt

Among the most illustrious people I have met in my life are the American painter Mark Tobey and the wellknown Seattle art patron Anne Gould Hauberg, two visionaries who shared a great connection to both spirit and art. I was privileged to step briefly into their orbits two years before each passed away, only later realizing the profound influence they had had upon each other and upon the art world.

Tobey had one of the most creative and chaotic residences I had ever visited; he was in his eighties, living in Basel, Switzerland when I spent a day with him in 1974, after my first pilgrimage to the Bahá'í World Centre in Haifa, Israel. Contrastingly, when I visited her in Seattle in 2014, Hauberg, then ninety-six, lived in a most elegant, orderly, and refined abode. Four decades separated those visits, and yet for me there was a great sense of continuity and connection in what we shared.

Before becoming aware of Hauberg, I had long admired the work of Mark Tobey, about whom I had written papers while studying aesthetics at Mills College. Influenced by my friendship with Arthur and Joyce Dahl, collectors of his work, and visits to their Pebble Beach home, I was thrilled when they arranged my meeting with Tobey in Switzerland. Fascinated by the connection of his Faith (which we shared) and his art, for which I had profound admiration, he became for me a symbol of the interrelation of the two.

When Tobey was a child, he experienced a sense of oneness with nature and an affinity for the sacredness and mystery of life. Born in 1890 in Centerville, Wisconsin, he was especially interested in nature study, biology, and zoology. But in 1911, determined to succeed as a fashion artist, he took a train to New York. His first one-man show of charcoal portraits was held in 1917 and arranged by Marie Sterner, who introduced him to the artist Juliet Thompson, for whom he agreed to pose. During the sittings, Tobey discovered that Thompson was a follower of the Bahá'í Faith, and he read some of the literature in her studio. Invited to Green Acre, a Bahá'í conference center in Maine, he learned more about and joined the Faith that would have a powerful impact upon his life. Along with the Faith's spiritualizing effect, the "dynamism of New York played a part in [his] desire to liberate and activate form," according to William Seitz, who says those years were for Tobey a montage of "sirens, dynamic lights, brilliant parades and returning heroes. An age of confusion and stepped up rhythms" (45).

In 1922 Tobey moved to Seattle from New York and taught at a progressive school of the arts. The following year, he began to learn the technique of Chinese calligraphy from Teng Kuei, a young Chinese artist studying at the University of Washington (Seitz 47). Eventually he became known as a Northwest painter, though he spent a good part of his life in England, China (with Teng Kuei's family), Japan, and Switzerland.

In 1926, before he had achieved international renown, Tobey was working as an art teacher at the Cornish School and became the instructor of Anne Gould (later Hauberg), who was then nine years old. She remembered how he taught his students to "capture the energy of nature," but the students' mothers "were displeased that their sons and daughters were not being taught to draw realistically," including her own mother, who withdrew her from the class (Johns 27). However, Hauberg never forgot his influence.

The daughter of architect Carl Gould and exuberant social activist Dorothy Gould, Hauberg was born in 1917, grew up in a creative household, and developed an appreciation for all the arts. In Hauberg's biography, Anne Gould Hauberg: Fired by Beauty, Barbara Johns describes how the Goulds frequently entertained and also held "memorable family occasions spiked with color and bursts of unconventionality" (29). Hauberg recalls, "We always lived in the two worlds of social and artistic. Anything creative was their motto! …

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