Connections: Alden and Vada Dow and Yvonne Bannelier Lagier
Yvonne Bannelier Lagier met Alden and Vada Dow when they were among the charter members of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin Fellowship in the spring of 1933. Ms. Lagier was an academically-trained artist in her native France and a multi-faceted painter, sculptor, illustrator, printmaker, and weaver.
She first came to the United States in 1927. During the time she spent in New York she declared: “The New York skyline is one of the most beautiful sights I have seen. The coming true architecture is hidden in these lines. It is not a matter of nationality, as so many people like to put it, but a matter of upbringing. When American artists stop imitating European art and begin to create from their own minds according to modern time, American art will be born.” This sentiment was certainly one shared by the young architect at that time as he began to develop his own uniquely American style of design.
During the Dow’s relatively brief stay at Taliesin, she drew several sketches of Vada Dow, capturing her essence in a few simple lines. These drawings, along with a number of impressionistic landscapes in watercolor, are preserved in the Archives at the Home and Studio.
The connection first established at Taliesin continued over the years through the exchange of letters between Ms. Lagier and Mrs. Dow. On the occasion of the birth of Michael Lloyd Dow, the Dow’s first child, in February of 1935, she sent a delicate woodcut of a mother holding a newborn child. She wrote of her pleasure at receiving photographs and news of the growing Dow family, and often replied with personal news of her husband and her daughter, Mimi. In a letter to Mr. Dow, she wrote of her nephew’s desire to build a house and to have Mr. Dow as its architect.
Beyond her involvement in Taliesin, Ms. Lagier worked as a design instructor for Alvin Colt Designs, the renowned Broadway/Hollywood couture house, and also lived and worked in Pratt, Kansas. Although her stated ambition was to do work in sculpture, she produced many watercolors and paintings. Her work can be found in the collections of the Wichita Art Museum, the Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas, and the Pratt County Historical Society Museum.
The circle of a very long and warm personal connection was completed in early 1983 when she
sent a congratulatory note to Mr. Dow on his receipt of the first Frank Lloyd Wright Creativity