University Museums

Title: Casa Popenoe
Name: Painting
Date: c. 1980s
Medium: Watercolor
Dimensions: 20 1/2 x 24 1/4 in. (52.1 x 61.6 cm)
Signed: Signed lower right hand corner in red, Marjorie S. Garfield.
Classification: Paintings
Credit Line: Gift of Marjorie S. Garfield. In the permanent collection, Brunnier Art Museum, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.
Object Number: UM83.182
More Information
Marjorie Garfield was an artist and arts administrator. A native of Boston, she received her BFA and MFA degrees from Syracuse University, where she was head and professor of interior design for many years. She was chair of the applied art department, Iowa State from 1948 until 1969 when she retired. During her tenure she was instrumental in commissioning from Grant Wood and other Iowa artists for Iowa State. Her efforts eventually provided the foundations for what is now called the Art on Campus Collection.

Garfield first visited Guatemala during the summer of 1937, intending to spend a few weeks sketching and painting. During this vacation, she became intrigued with Guatemalan architecture and furniture of the colonial period (1523-1824). She then decided to undertake the task of documenting through photographs, watercolors, drawings and paintings the Guatemala interiors and architecture that remained after 300 years of Spanish colonial rule, a task she pursued for the next 10 years. Garfield's work in Guatemala was primary an endeavor to document the colonial period before earthquakes, volcanoes, insects, humidity and war completely destroyed what had been built. Her research presents a case study of an attempt to recreate a European community in the New World. In the permanent collection the Brunnier Art Museum owns Garfield's watercolors of this project, and Special Collections, Parks Library has her photographic documentation.

Casa Popenoe in Antigua, Guatemala stands as one of the great houses of Spanish-Colonial occupation. Built more than three hundred years ago, it interiors and furnishing reflect the sprit (sic) of Andalusia, and its Moorish feeling pervades the architectural and interior character. Early records of 1639 indicate the house belonged to the King's attorney. In 1930 Dr. and Mrs. Wilson Popenoe who undertook extensive restoration purchased the house. Marjorie Garfield, a frequent guest at Casa Popenoe during her trips to Guatemala, was greatly encouraged by the Popenoes to undertake the task of documenting colonial Guatemala.

Garfield was also a prolific landscape painter, and within the Ames community there are many seascapes, mountain vistas, urban and rural landscapes which she created.