Etchings by Mildred Bryant Brooks
Born in Maryville Missouri in 1901, Mildred Bryant grew up in Long Beach, California, where she moved with her family in 1907. She attended USC where she studied with F. Tolles Chamberlin who encouraged her as a printmaker. In 1929 she began her career as an etcher under the guidance of Arthur Millier (1893–1975), who was also the art critic for the Los Angeles Times. In addition, she studied with Earl Stetson Crawford (1877–1965), a master etcher who was living in Pasadena. Bryant began a teaching career at the Stickney Art Institute and also often lectured on etching. In the early 1930s, she began winning major prizes for her etchings from print societies nationwide, including the California Society of Etchers, the Chicago Society of Etchers, and the Society of American Etchers. Her work, Companions, received the annual prize from the Chicago Society of Etchers in 1937, which was the first time the prize had been awarded to an artist west of the Mississippi River. Brooks worked throughout the 1930s and into the early 1940s.
Laguna Art Museum holds forty-four Brooks etchings in the collection, several of which are award winners. Brooks focused on etchings of trees, which Arthur Millier noted “are the most difficult of all subjects; they permit few liberties.” Brooks carefully studied her subject scientifically. The result are works that are both original and beautiful in their detail. Brooks died in Santa Barbara in 1995. Her works are held in numerous museums including the Los Angeles Museum of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the Cleveland Museum of Art. The exhibition is drawn from the museum’s own rich holdings in Brooks’s work as a printmaker.