The Stone City Art Colony and School
Dorothea Tomlinson Marquis

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Dorothea Tomlinson Marquis (1898-1985) - instructor and student advisor

Born in the central Iowa town of Fairfield, Dorothea took private lessons with a local artist, Bertha Linder Pumphrey, and sold her first painting at the age of sixteen. A gifted artist, she won a four-year scholarship to the Cumming School of Art in Des Moines with her work,"Spinning Wheel," painted when she was eighteen. Dorothea attended the 1932 Stone City Art Colony session as a student advisor, reviewing works and mentoring students. She would later diversify her talents through WPA mural commissions, landscape paintings, portraiture, lithography, and industrial design.

Tomlinson had exhibited widely prior to the art colony, winning awards at the Iowa Art Salon, Iowa State Fair from 1928-1930. In addition, she would frequently garner prizes from the Des Moines Women’s Club for her oil paintings, taking top honors in 1937. One work, “Family Quilting,” shown at the Women’s Club in March 1934 was later chosen for a WPA art exhibit in the central Congressional building, Washington, D.C. Depicting her mother’s ancestral home in Fairfield, Iowa, the painting was featured in an article on WPA art in the Sunday New York Times on April 29, 1934. The painting was later acquired and displayed in a Kentucky senator's office in the Capitol. Two other lauded paintings, "Threshing" (1934 Iowa Art Salon, third in oils) and "Corn" (1937 Iowa Art Salon honors), were purchased by Iowa State College (Iowa State University) for display in the Agricultural Hall.

In 1939, Tomlinson was awarded the WPA mural commission for the Mount Pleasant, Iowa post office and produced three small murals that captured the town’s history in 1840. The panels depicted Pioneer Hall at Iowa Wesleyan College, the city square and first county courthouse, and a local farm. The panels were installed in November 1939. Tomlinson would also design and create a WPA mural for the Hoisington, Kansas post office in 1938 titled “Wheat Center,” showing a harvest scene.

Tomlinson continued to exhibit widely, including: the Iowa Federation of Women’s Clubs (1934); Iowa Artists Club (1933); Iowa State College, Ames, Iowa (1939); and the Woman’s Club of Charles City, Iowa (ca. 1938). While working as a resident artist and instructor for the Des Moines Art Center, she authored a book of personal drawings titled “Pioneer Industries (in the Middlewest Before the Railroad).” Tomlinson served as a member of the Iowa Artists Club, including organization secretary (1933-34) as art chairman of the Iowa Federation of Women’s Clubs (1937-39), and as a member of the Iowa Engineering Society. She was listed in Who’s Who in American Art, 1938-1980 (various editions).

During World War II, Tomlinson answered the government's call for industrial artists to aid the war effort. She joined Climax Engineering in Clinton, Iowa as a draftsman. The company manufactured military-grade hydraulic pumps. Her second employer, Loudon Manufacturing, was located in her hometown of Fairfield; while there, she served as an art instructor at Parsons College, leading summer workshops and giving lectures on art appreciation. During her last phase as an industrial designer, Tomlinson worked for Fair-Play Manufacturing in Des Moines, the original creators of the electronic scoreboard. The artist reconfigured the company's design layout for ease of use, prompting financial savings and recognition from the Iowa Engineering Society.

Dorothea continued to paint oils and murals, despite her workplace commitments, and produced a three-mural set that was part of a national tour in the 1980s. In her later years, she returned to the Des Moines area and died there in 1985.

Published Works

Tomlinson, Dorothea Marquis. Before the Railroad in the Middle West. Des Moines, IA: Blackhurst Book Company, 1938.

"Wheat Center," 1938 mural for the Hoisington, Kansas Post Office. Image courtesy of Donita Crutcher, Hoisington, KS.

Dorothea Tomlinson Marquis - From the large group photo of The 1932 Stone City Art Colony and School found on the Artists: 
			1932 page.

Dorothea Tomlinson Marquis - From the large group photo of The 1932 Stone City Art Colony and School found on the Artists: 1932 page.

Dorothea Tomlinson Marquis (n.d.) - Image is owned and used with the permission of Scott and Mary Corliss, Augusta, GA.

Two of the Ice Wagons used at the Colony.  Probably taken by Dorothea Tomlinson Marquis. Used with the permission of Scott and Mary Corliss, Augusta, GA.


When Tillage Begins: The Stone City Art Colony and School
Published online October 2003 by the
Busse Library,
Mount Mercy University
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