The Stone City Art Colony and School 1932-1933
Persis Weaver Robertson

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Persis Weaver Robertson (1896-1992) -- student 

The daughter of two noted Des Moines, Iowa citizens, Persis Weaver was born in May 1896 to James B. Weaver, local attorney and arts advocate, and Fayette Atkins Weaver, a sculptor and woodcarver. Persis attended Wells College in Aurora, New York (1913-1917), graduating cum laude with a background in French, theater, and literature. Weaver participated in both sessions of the Stone City art colony (1932-1933). Two colony members, Lowell Houser and Adrian Dornbush, served as Weaver's instructors at the Art Students Workshop in Des Moines during the 1930s, cultivating her talents in lithography, the emphasis of her art endeavors.

Following her marriage to Albert J. Robertson in 1918, the couple lived in Minneapolis until 1924, then relocated to Des Moines, residing in Iowa until 1953. That same year, with Albert appointed to a top position within the Eisenhower administration, the couple journeyed to Washington, D.C. Robertson's positions included assistant postmaster general and chairman of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board (1955-1961). Creative activities continued to fill Persis Weaver Robertson's life, despite her choice to cease producing lithographs. Following her husband's death, she moved to Bridgeport, Connecticut in 1978 and became an adept paper-cutting artist, garnering a show of her "Paintings with Scissors" at the Homer-Babbidge Library, University of Connecticut and and a one-man show at the Barnum Museum Gallery, Bridgeport.

While living in Iowa, Robertson exhibited extensively, frequently winning prizes at the Iowa State Fair's Art Salon (1934-1938) and showing lithographs at the Iowa Artists Club (1934). Her first noted showing at the fair was her work, "Farmhouse," exhibited in the 1930s following the Stone City experience. At the Art Institute of Chicago, Robertson had works within the Fifth and Sixth Annual International Exhibitions of Lithography (1935, 1937). Additional showings occurred at the Kansas City Midwestern Exhibition (1935-1937); the All Iowa Exhibit at Carson, Pirie, Scott, and Company (Chicago, 1937); the Minnesota State Fair (1936), and the Five States Exhibition (Omaha, 1936). Robertson's lithographs also appeared at the Santa Fe Art Museum (1936), the Northwest Printmakers Exhibition (Seattle, 1937), and the National Lithography Exhibition (1938) in Buffalo, New York, where her work "Night Life" won fourth place in the black and white division. A one-man show featuring her works was offered at the Ferargil Gallery (NYC) in January 1939. The Robertson lithograph "Front Door" is owned by the Smithsonian's American Art Museum.

Within Robertson's family stands a legacy for supporting arts in the Des Moines area. In 1933, her father's volunteer efforts led to the $500,000 initial capital funds to start a local art center and museum. Persis and her husband served on the volunteer committee that planned and launched the museum, now known as the Des Moines Art Center. Robertson also paired with Florence Cowles Kruidenier to start the Art Students Workshop at the downtown public library, a division of the Des Moines Art Association. Her later years were spent in Bridgeport, Connecticut, where she died in June 1992.

Online Resources for Persis Weaver Robertson:

Matt Collins. "The Stone City Art Mystery." Featured in the Summer 2012 edition of the Mount Mercy Magazine, published by Mount Mercy University, Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Available:

Smithsonian American Art Museum. Have a Question? Persis Robertson. Available:

The Farm House - 1930s lithograph. Image provided by Persis Gow of Concord, NH, daughter of the artist.

Front Door. Image courtesy of Mrs. Robertson's great grandson, Matt Collins, Hastings on Hudson, NY.

Deeploma O'Litho created by David McCosh for Persis Weaver Robertson during the 1932 Stone City Art Colony session. Image courtesy of Mrs. Robertson's great-grandson, Matt Collins, Hastings on Hudson, NY.

Example of the paper cut art exhibited in Bridgeport, CT shortly before her death in 1992. Image courtesy of Matt Collins, Hastings on Hudson, NY.








Persis Weaver Robertson, from the Stone City Art Colony Painting Class photograph found on The Project page.

Mrs. Robertson and her great, great-granddaughter Kate Collins, taken in the late 1980s. Image courtesy of Matt Collins, Hastings on Hudson, NY.

When Tillage Begins: The Stone City Art Colony and School
Published online October 2003 by the
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