Sea Life

Patterson - Sealife.jpg

Dublin Core


Sea Life


We behold at least a dozen distinct plants and animals as a flattened tapestry whose weave isn’t simply metaphorical: the warp of vertical plants and rising bubbles is complemented by a weft of horizontel “currents” visualized for the painting. Although it’s quite likely most viewers would know such sea life only through the glass of an aquarium, Patterson effaces all traces of artifice in the service of an even deeper one: a blue-shifted, underwater world.

About the Artist
: Born in Monmouth, IL, Patterson’s practice of art required entrepreneurship throughout his life. The son of a printer, he financed his study at Monmouth College by working summers on the railroad in nearby Des Moines, then in 1913 teaching art lessons (Des Moines Register 15 July 1913: 9). He went on to receive further training at the Cummings School of Art (University of Iowa), the Philadelphia School of Design, and a masters in fine arts at Harvard University. At the same time, however, he continued to teach at far-flung locations: the Cummings School (Iowa), Northern State Teachers College (South Dakota), Tulane University, and at the Universities of Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin (Des Moines Register 13 Sept. 1925: 10). His professional life, in other words, was contingent; alongside notices of his teaching posts are mentions of threatened cuts to art programs. His NDG paintings most likely date to a period when he lived in New York for about a decade, perhaps teaching at Columbia University. For most of his life Patterson’s horizon remained regional; he often won prizes at the Iowa Art Salon—where he exhibited for 25 consecutive years—and the Des Moines Womens Club exhibitions.


Patterson, Claude A[llan], 1887-1973


Federal Art Project




Ritz, Abigail (photography)

Cooper, Ken (biography)


New Deal Gallery, Genesee Valley Council on the Arts

Object #FA18231


jpeg, 959 KB


Still image



Still Image Item Type Metadata

Original Format

Watercolor painting

Physical Dimensions

19.5 x 22.5 in.
Condition: needs remounting, paper buckling