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"SONG OF THE BLUEBIRD"



Zula Kenyon

Zula Kenyon - (1873-1947)

  This large pastel on canvas titled, "The Song of the Bluebird" was created by Zula Kenyon for use as a calendar by the Gerlach Barklow Calendar Company. This image was Zula Kenyon's first painting created for the Bluebird series, and by far, the most widely recognized image of Gerlach Barklow's long running series of a little girl looking up at a bluebird. Zula created many images to be used for the Bluebird series during the period from 1926-1939. Zula Kenyon was a good friend and mentor to fellow artist, Adelaide Hiebel. Ms. Hiebel painted several more Bluebird calendar images for Gerlach Barklow into the 1950's, at which time the subject matter had run it's course. The idea of a Bluebird calendar series came to mind after Theodore Gerlach returned home from a trip to Europe with a print of "The Spring Song", which depicted a little girl on a park bench gazing at a bluebird. Later, Mr. and Mrs. E. J. Barklow returned from a stage performance of Maeterlink's "The Bluebird", and it was suggested to Ms. Kenyon that she create a calendar image along those same lines, with the little girl gazing at a bluebird in the springtime. That image, "The Song of the Bluebird", proved to be Gerlach Barklow's most successful and popular image ever produced. This painting measures 30' x 40" framed, and is in pristine condition, with the original frame, glass, and original brass plate engraved with the Gerlach Barklow company's name on it. This painting has been in the same family ownership for much of it's existence, and we are pleased to have it in our collection.

  Zula Kenyon was one of the first female calendar artist illustrators. She studied under Frederick Freer at the Art Institute in Chicago. Although Zula completed some early work for various companies, she began doing artwork for the Gerlach Barklow Calendar Company of Joliet, Illinois shortly after it was founded in 1907. Although in those days, calendar company customers were reluctant to purchase images created by a woman, the company asked her to only sign her early work "Kenyon". She soon signed an exclusive contract with Gerlach Barklow Calendar Company, due to her images being so successful. Zula mainly used pastels, and often would grind her own colors in order to obtain the quality she desired for her work. She worked in a studio at the calendar company in Joliet, Illinois for around 12 years, before moving out west due to health problems. She continued producing artwork for calendar images up into the late 1930's.

  Zula created Gerlach Barklow's most popular calendar series, the "Bluebird Series" from 1926 to 1932, and again in 1939. Miss Kenyon completed more than 250 calendar subjects for the Gerlach Barklow Calendar Company. When she first moved to San Diego in the 1920's, Miss Kenyon lived in a home overlooking one of the city parks. She later moved near the mountains near El Cajon, Ca., where she lived with her housekeeper. Her home was a gathering place for local artists, while in San Diego. Pneumonia was her immediate cause of death in 1947, at the age of 74, though her health had been poor for several years. It is believed that much of her original artwork was destroyed.

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