Here in the United States, we celebrate the accomplishments of women every March. Most often, these women are well known, like Eleanor Roosevelt and Harriet Tubman. No doubt, these two women were remarkable and their accomplishments are indelibly engrained in our historic memory bank. Nevertheless, countless other women have contributed noteworthy accomplishments as well. What follows is the story of just one of those women.
Grace’s early history
Near the end of the 1800s, when women had very few choices, especially when it came to careers, California native, Grace Carpenter Hudson became a well-known, very successful painter. This might not be of much interest to most, unless you consider some of her subjects. More on that later. For now, let’s learn more about Grace.
Born to the first white school teacher for the Pomo Native American tribe and an accomplished artist, Grace expressed her artistic abilities at a young age. As a teenager, she entered the San Francisco School of Design and thrived winning a prestigious award after only two years of study.
After a brief marriage, which prompted Grace to leave school, she returned home to Ukiah where she continued creating award-winning art. Much of her work at this time was commercial art for popular publications like Cosmopolitan.
Grace’s career and love life gets a boost!
The second time was a charm for Grace. She met and married a man, John Hudson, who cherished her and her work. As kindred spirits, they cared for many of the same ideals, including native peoples, especially the Pomo. Thus, he encouraged Grace to concentrate painting their Pomo neighbors.
Serendipitously, her work was perfectly timed with a nation’s intense interest in our native peoples. In fact, some of these works were exhibited in the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. Overall, Grace painted over 600 portraits of the Pomo’s daily life.
Grace’s work was so highly prized and in demand that she exhausted herself. So, in 1900 she ventured to the Territory of Hawaii – not yet a state — for a yearlong solo vacation. Interestingly, she didn’t use her time sun bathing. She painted 26 works of art focusing on Hawaiians, Chinese and Japanese. Upon her return, Grace and John spent some time in Oklahoma Territory where she painted and sketched the Pawnee.
Grace is gone, but her work remains with us.
Today, the Hudson’s home, which was given as a gift to the City of Ukiah, is one of California’s Historical Landmarks. Grace and John named their home The Sun House and adorned it with the Hopi sign of the sun above the front door. It sits, along with a Grace Hudson Museum, on four-acres known as Hudson-Carpenter City Park.
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