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Saturday, November 29, 2014

Where Has All the Hollings’ Art Gone?

Viewers regularly see magazine and book illustrations appraised on Antiques Roadshow, which make s one wonder where Holling and Lucille’s original art can be seen. I was ready to search a number of universities and museums for leads when Joan Hoffman answered my question. Joan is the curator behind the Leslie Area Historical Museum in Leslie, MI.

She writes that the museum has seven original paintings and many copies. Pictured here are photos of two of Holling’s watercolors. Two other originals are unique in that they are murals cut from the wall where they were painted and donated to the museum by the owner of the house originally owned by Holling’s grandparents.

Two came from a Leslie resident who is the granddaughter of Holling’s grandfather’s sister. Three other pieces, she says, were donated by Holling’s niece, Linda. Linda is a Michigan resident, Joan explains, and her family may have about 15 framed originals plus other unframed pieces of art.

Another niece, living in California, has several originals.

If you were on the road before the 1950s, you might have stopped in Chicago to see the Holling murals that were in Bob Drake's Ranch Restaurant on Michigan Ave.. There were eight murals by Holling and Lucille in the dining room on the subject of Indians and food. (Indian hunting and fishing, cultivating, gathering and preparing food, and then the feast.) There were murals over the bar. One, a stage coach mural by Holling. Joan says, “Bob’s [grandson] lives in Colorado. and made copies of what he has, which included everything from the menu, match covers, and the outside of the building and sign, all designed by the Hollings!”

At the Nine Quarter Circle Ranch in Montana (5000 Taylor Fork Rd., Gallatin Gateway, MT), some of Holling's decorative iron work still adorns walls, door hinges and door handles shaped like animals. This dude ranch is owned by the Kelsey family.

Holling’s rendition of the Lincoln Memorial, with Lincoln standing.  Signed Holling Holling.  Date unknown.

But the vast amount of Holling-related material is archived at the University of California-Los Angeles. Their collection includes book proofs, correspondence, news clippings, research materials, models (two, of Paddle-to-the-Sea that Holling built), drafts, illustrations, dust jackets, two sound recordings of books , sketches, drawings and working illustrations, stencils, watercolors, and cartoons. But, UCLA’s archives do not appear to have the magnificent artwork published in the Houghton-Mifflin books. The archive’s contents can be reviewed at

Other ephemera — dust jackets and possibly some art from Houghton-Mifflin publishers — are archived at the University of Oregon and the University of Minnesota.

So the Hollings’ artwork still lives on outside of the books. You just have to look hard for it.

Monkey on a carousel, probably painted ca. 1929 when Holling was designing covers for Junior Home magazine.