Oct 132016

Blanche Phillips Howard (1908-1976), the second wife of John Langley Howard (1902-1999), accompanied her husband in 1951 (the year they married) when they lived most of the year in Mexico, including a spell in Ajijic.

Blanche Phillips Howard. Untitled metal sculpture.

Blanche Phillips Howard. Untitled metal sculpture.

Blanche Phillips was born in Mt. Union, Pennsylvania and attended Cooper Union, the Art Students League and the Steinhof Institute of Design in New York. She also studied at the California School of Fine Arts (CSFA), now called the San Francisco Art Institute. Blanche also studied with Ossip Zadkine.

She lived in the Bay Area 1942-1950, and again in the 1970s. She was best known for her sculptures, especially expressionist abstractions, made primarily in brass. Early in her career, she worked for a time with another, younger Bay area sculptor, Mary Fuller McChesney, who also has links to Ajijic. In an interview years afterwards, McChesney recounted how Blanche had later told her that “she just couldn’t stand my arrogance as an young artist because I said I could never work in stone… because I couldn’t have that much patience to work that long. So I worked in clay because it was a faster material.”

Blanche Phillips Howard exhibited regularly at Stable Gallery and a major retrospective of her work was held at The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, University of California, Berkeley in 1981. She was also the author of Dance of the Self: Movements for Body, Mind, and Spirit (Simon & Schuster, 1975), a book about “a dance philosophy that was practiced back in the Thirties in a small, obscure Greenwich Village studio.”

Note: This post received minor edits in September 2018 to reflect the comment below from Michael Agostino.

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  2 Responses to “Sculptor Blanche Phillips Howard visited Ajijic in 1951”

  1. I knew and was a friend of the Howards beginning in 1971. I lived in the apartment they rented to me below theirs for a couple of years and we carried on the friendship through the years after that.
    I was told by Blanch that they lived in Mexico for a year, I believe, in a small place they bought.
    I have a painting by Blanch’s husband at the time, John Langley Howard, that is from that period.
    It dates to the early fifties and is documented by a label on the back side from an artist show at the Whitney Museum.
    I hope this helps in supporting the belief that Blanch and Langley lived in Mexico for a short time.
    BTW – I built out a studio for Blanch and watched her create her metal work while I lived there.

    • Michael, Thank you for taking the time to comment in such detail about your friendship with the Howards and the clear evidence supporting the fact that they definitely both spent time in Mexico. It’s amazing how many great artists worked at Lake Chapala. Best wishes, Tony.

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