The Stone City Art Colony and School 1932-1933
Marjorie Ann Nuhn

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Marjorie Ann Nuhn (1898-1988) - student

Born in Cedar Falls, Marjorie Nuhn attended local schools and the University of Northern Iowa, graduating with kindergarten teaching credentials in 1919. While an undergraduate, Marjorie pursued her interest in art, receiving support from faculty (especially Henrietta Thornton, who became her mentor) to continue in her studies. In January 1929, she enrolled at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, focusing on graphic design, painting, and drawing. In 1930, she became a student at the Art Institute of Chicago, emphasizing watercolors.

Nuhn attended both sessions of the Stone City Art Colony, with Adrian Dornbush as her faculty mentor. The colony is credited in giving Marjorie the encouragement to focus on watercolors, thanks to Dornbush’s influence. Following her Stone City experience, Nuhn returned to Cedar Falls and soon produced enough paintings to garner her first exhibit at the Cedar Falls Womens Club in March 1933. After featuring Iowa in her paintings, Nuhn began to crave new subjects and traveled extensively in the western United States and Central America. Her interest in Native American culture and art spurred the themes behind much of her work from the late 1930s through 1970. From June 1939 until December 1940, Nuhn lived in a small adobe house she named “Casa Atalaya Hill” and painted in the Santa Fe, New Mexico area.

In New Mexico, Nuhn participated in classes at the Arsuna School of Fine Arts and was active in the local arts community. She frequently exhibited watercolors with the Cedar Falls (IA) Art Association following each of her extensive travels (1938-1970). Her brother, Ferner Nuhn, served as the first president of the organization and exhibited Marjorie’s paintings as part of the group’s first art show in 1940. In November 1941, a collection of works based on Arizona’s Painted Desert and the Tucson area garnered Nuhn three showings at the Cedar Falls Art Gallery, the Dubuque Art Association gallery, and the Des Moines Art Center. From 1945-66, Nuhn traveled and painted in many areas – Mexico, Guatemala, Hawaii, New Orleans, and the Rocky Mountains.

Featured exhibitions of Nuhn’s works occurred at: the Artists Union, Chicago (1938); the Santa Fe (NM) Art Museum (1940); the Taos (NM) Art Gallery (1940); the Cedar Falls Art Gallery (1940-47); the Alma Reed Gallery, NYC (1941); the Des Moines Art Center (1943-1953); Terry Art Institute, Indianapolis (1952); the Maucker Union, University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls (1975), and a retrospective at the Metropolitan Gallery, Cedar Falls (1985). Additional showings occurred in Dubuque and Fort Dodge, Iowa. Nuhn eventually relocated and retired to her family home in Iowa. She died in Cedar Falls in January 1988.


"Scene - Anamosa Incidental Landscape (Stone City, Iowa)." Gift from Ferner Nuhn, Permanent Collection of the Hearst Center for the Arts. Image courtesy of Emily Drennan, curator of the Hearst Center for the Arts, Cedar Falls, Iowa.

Marjorie Nuhn from the Stone City Art Colony Painting Class, ca. 1932-33 photo by John W. Barry, Jr. found on the Project page.

Marjorie Nuhn and her cat, Daisy Belle. Photo courtesy of Emily Drennan, curator of the Hearst Center for the Arts, Cedar Falls, IA.


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