Friday, March 12, 2010

Martha Sawyers: "... an insatiable desire to see far-away places and to make a record..."

In early 1958, Martha Sawyers and husband Bill Reusswig once more felt the urgent pull of the Far East calling to them. They purchased plane tickets ($1,800 each) which were "good for a year and interchangeable with a dozen different airlines," and set out another adventure.

Writing for an article in the April 1959 issue of American Artist (just a little over a year after their return) Bill Reusswig reported, "The course was roughly planned but without reservations beyond Tokyo."

And what a course it was! The couple left their home in Milford CT, flew to San Francisco; then on to Honolulu, Wake Island, Tokyo, Hong Kong...

... Bangkok, Chiengmai, Rangoon, Calcutta, Patna, Katmandu...

... New Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Bombay, Karachi...

... Istanbul, Athens, Rome, Paris, Madrid, Lisbon - and finally, after many long months and with bulging portfolios, by klipper ship back home to New York.

Reusswig said, "As we had covered a lot of this territory before, we wanted to feel free to 'follow the bend in the river'."

The couple often stayed in the humble homes of those who were the subjects of their drawings and paintings. Reusswig recounted, "Even though we did not speak their native tongue, a quick sketch was better than sign language. And even if you got lost, more often than not you could draw your way home."

These pieces are, I think, some of the best of Martha Sawyers work that I've seen. Even so, they barely begin to reflect the stories Reusswig describes in the article of the couple's year-long adventure!

He concludes, "The whole trip was a wonderful experience, and in addition to the memories it will always excite, we brought back enough authentic pictures and sketches to feed on for many months to come."

* My Martha Sawyers Flickr set.

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