Among the legacies that HAHS helps to maintain are those of important but lesser-known artists, such as Grace Carpenter Hudson (1865-1937), whose modest craftsman-style home stands in the small town of Ukiah, California, at the southern edge of the Mendocino National Forest. It testifies to the lifetime Grace and her ethnologist husband Dr. John Hudson spent representing and recording the lives of the local Pomo, an indigenous people of coastal California. Hudson’s home and studio effectively documents a period of Pomo cultural reconstruction following massacres and dispossessions by the U.S. government, offering insights into how European Americans tried to see Native Americans as the frontier came to a close.
HAHS also counts studios of some of the most famous artists on its roster. After they married in 1945,
moved from New York City to a small 19th-century fisherman’s home on Long Island’s East End. Although Pollock had already emerged as a leader of the
movement, a move away from the city—and the vices it whipped up—proved a needed change. It was there, in a converted barn, that Pollock made his legendary innovation: He began to pour, drip, and fling paint across canvases spread on the floor.
Helen Harrison, director of the Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center, says that the almost numinous quality of the place has been invaluable to other artists, filmmakers, and scholars. This is the very scene that Joe Fig painstakingly reproduced in miniature as part of his series of models of artists at work in their studios. It’s the historical setting that actor and director Ed Harris said was essential for filming the Oscar-winning biopic of the artist, Pollock. And it’s where documents stashed in a suitcase in the attic were discovered (in addition to several unpublished works on paper), shedding new light on Pollock’s and Krasner’s personal and professional lives. Pollock scholar Francis V. O’Connor says these discoveries represent the most gratifying moments of the ongoing work of preserving studios.