January 7, 2002
There is a lengthy biographical resume of Hubert Jay Stowitts in by Anne Holliday in the catalog producedby the Stowitts Museum in connection with Stowitts' last works, which were metaphysical.
Stowitts definitely belongs to the generation of St. Denis, Shawn and the like, where moxie and curiosity made up for lack of the formal training available in Europe. As to his capacity for self-effacement, I know he adored Anna Pavlova, but he also had a healthy self-respect and an avid intellectual capacity.
I encountered Stowitts' career in the late 50's, early 60's when I interviewed a Bay Area balletomane/artist by the name of J. Paget Fredericks, who at one time or another claimed direct relationship to the Pagets of England and Baron Fredericks of the Russian Imperial artistic staff. I met his sister who lived in Redondo Beach and in whose backyard cottage Stowitts lived as he got older and his star faded on the stage and Hollywood horizon.
His career was a substantial one and the popularity of his paintings from Java and India quite remarkable in the early 30's.
When he was stranded in Berlin after the Olympics, he helped Lei Reifenstahl with her documentary on the Olympics and brought back to the U.S. perhaps the only copy, which was discovered in the late 50's and shown in cinema art houses in California at least.
He also partnered Irene Harvey when she made a film in Germany on Fanny Elssler. There was a ballet in it, based on his exposure to the sultan's courts in Indonesia, I think the one at Jogjokarta. At that time, the royal children all learned to dance and perform the elaborate court ritual dances based on the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, the Hindu epics whose tradition has lingered in Southeast Asia after its conversion to Islam.
Anne Holliday has spent nearly fifteen years researching his life
and collecting his paintings. Stowitts was a self-taught artist and as he got older what were reflections of Asian life seemed to get distorted by an effort to achieve a highly personal inner perception. This is particularly apparent in some of his depictions of Nijinsky, whom he saw in South America, I think at the very end of Nijinsky's performing career. Whatever my opinion, Stowitts gets full marks for a prolific and fascinating life.
And equally full marks go to Anne Holliday for her devotion and
promotion of Stowitts as artist and personality.