The Brodkin Project was formalized in February 2001 based upon a proposal drafted in
January. The generous funding of the project insures the ongoing activities associated
with the following initiatives: a) securing the materials through an active field
program, b) properly storing, cataloging, and preserving the materials, and c) maintaining
an efficient computerized retrieval process by which information about the materials is
made available for research use.
On March 15, 2001 the New Orleans Academy of Fine Arts transferred ownership of the Bettina
Steinke papers, the first major collection acquired under the aegis of the Brodkin project.
By December 21, 2009 the Dickinson Research Center had contacted 101 artists to solicit
their participation in the project. Of these 101, 93 artists (92%) indicated a strong,
reserved, or possible likelihood to participate. Of these 93 artists, 79 (85%) contributed
tangibly by donating either clippings, magazine articles, books, and videotapes; or, by
having interviews about their lives and careers recorded for inclusion in the Center's
oral history holdings; or, by allowing art demonstrations video-recorded for inclusion
in the Center's moving images holdings; or, finally, but most significantly, by donating
their personal papers.
Most of these artists have had long associations with this museum through the National
Academy of Western Artists. Several have been honored for their art with the Prix de West
Several artists have generously donated their personal papers to the Brodkin Project: Tom
Lovell, Bill Reese, Tom Ryan, Lowell Ellsworth Smith, Donald Teague, and Hollis Williford.
Altogether 67 different artists have their oral histories recorded, preserved, and made
available to visitors and researchers in the Research Center.
"A portrait is the interpretation of a personality, not a blueprint or a painstaking copy
of eyes, nose and mouth. A portrait describes the entire figure even though it is a
vignetted head. The head is very much connected to the rest of the figure and that is not
as silly as it sounds! What the body does, how it moves, the way it stands is all
reflected in the head. A perfect portrait can be made of a rear view of a figure, no
face showing. A portrait head can be an exact likeness without the eyes, nose and mouth,
simply by a careful painting of the muscles, and bony forms."
- Bettina Steinke (1913-1999), illustrator, genre, native figure and portrait artist (August 1977)