Multiple publications include illustrations of Woodrow Wilson Crumbo’ s Land of Enchantment (c. 1946), but few go into depth about its satirical commentary. Only Leah Dilworth’ s book, Imagining Indians in the Southwest: Persistent Visions of a Primitive Past, provides a brief analysis of the work in light of consumerism and the Euro-American gaze. However, there is more to be discovered in this work. Despite its unique character in Crumbo’ s portfolio, this watercolor probably best reflects his personality and passion for Native Americans.
In Land of Enchantment, Crumbo portrays a cartoon-like example of tourism and the Native American art market during the twentieth century. At first glance, the work seems quite amusing and may reflect D.H. Lawrence’ s observations of the Southwestern tourist. “Woody” was known for his sense of humor. But after closer observation, we can find elements that suggest the uncomfortable socio-political nature of the work. Along with Euro-Americans, Navajos are shown in the painting. It is particularly interesting that Crumbo chose to include a Navajo child with a cavalry doll, because of their sad relationship with the military. One is only left to wonder whether the consumers’ philanthropic and heightened interest in their crafts during the 1940s truly reflected a positive evolution on the part of the shoppers. This too reflected Crumbo’ s ongoing interest in the struggles of the artists and the problems faced by Native Americans in the United States as described in letters, newspaper interviews, and my conversations with his daughter.
Brittney Shireman, ’06 Maquoketa, IA
Majors: Economics and Business, Art
Sponsor: Christina McOmber