In the next in our 12 for 12 series highlighting local artists for the Columbus Bicentennial, we feature James Roy Hopkins and Edna Boies.
Ohio born James Roy Hopkins (1877-1969) met his future wife Edna Boies (1872-1937) while they both were students at the Art Academy of Cincinnati. James was primarily a painter and Edna quickly became an accomplished printmaker, fascinated with 19th century Japanese woodblock prints. The couple married in 1904 following a two year stint James had made in Paris to study at the Académie Colarossi. During their honeymoon, they had a protracted visit to Japan where Edna further perfected her woodblock printmaking techniques. James and Edna settled in Paris as did many American artists of the day only to return home to Cincinnati, Ohio when World War I broke out. James taught at the Art Academy of Cincinnati and Edna successfully continued her career making floral woodblock prints.
The summer of 1915 was pivotal for both artists. Edna visited artist friends who were living and working in Provincetown, Massachusetts where she began using the so-called “white line” method of making woodblock prints that was special to a small group of artists there. These prints were less laborious to produce than previous methods and their look tended to reflect the Modernist aesthetic that was becoming widespread in American art. The Columbus Museum of Art’s recently acquired Garden Flowers is a prime example of her floral work likely made in Provincetown but in the traditional multi-block method. James, on the other hand, visited Cumberland Falls, Kentucky, a rural resort fashionable among Cincinnati society, and was captivated by the hand-working Appalachian people who worked at the local Brunson Inn. One character in particular, Andy Vanover—and later other members of his clan—was a frequent sitter for James’s paintings. In subsequent summers, Edna would join James in Cumberland Falls and she too produced some marvelous woodblock prints, images of rural Appalachia that have become as highly prized and her husband’s oil paintings of similar subjects.
Edna and James both led productive and successful careers. Edna traveled extensively between Provincetown, Paris, New York, and Columbus, where James had been appointed artist in residence at the Ohio State University. He soon was given the position of chairman of OSU’s art department. Although they worked in different media and styles—Edna in a Modernist style, James in an Impressionist—they valued each other’s work and maintained a loving and mutually supporting relationship throughout their lives.
(Edna Boies Hopkins, Garden Flowers, c. 1915, Color woodcut,
Museum Purchase Howald Fund)