Edie Hamlin & Maynard Dixon Murals

Maynard Dixon’s Muse

Maynard Dixon and Edith Hamlin were enamored all their life with the Plains Indians, their legends and colorfulness, and everything about them. Unlike his former wife, Dorothea Lange, the famous Depression-era photographer, Edie seemed comfortable in Maynard’s shadow. He was one of the most famous painters of the Old West in the country. Like most artists in San Francisco then, both of them lived on Montgomery Street in the small artists’ colony during the 20 and 30s.

Maynard met Edie when he taught murals at the San Francisco Art Institute. They had known each other for many years before they married in 1937. She was 33 and he was 29 years older. She said, “These were the best years of my life.”

Throughout their life, they collaborated on many murals. Maynard drew the figures in the WPA mural that Edie and four assistants painted in the library of Mission High in 1937. These murals are open to the public. Afterward, they moved to Tucson, Arizona.

I want to get this out to the public! Edie deserves more recognition! Her mural in Coit Tower on the second floor is closed to the public so her work is not well known. Her other murals are in cities throughout the Southwest. She also had many one-person shows in museums nationwide.

When I organized Coit Tower 50th Anniversary, Edie and I met and later, we discovered our fascination with the arts and became special friends.  Recently Coit Tower celebrated its 75th anniversary and it had the same problems it had 25 years ago. Fortunately, Mayor Lee allocated public funds to fix the tower for ever. This beacon of artistic freedom is an iconic image of the city.

I’ve written travel features, interviews, community and art news for Art in America, The Examiner Travel Section, and the New York Tribune.

Sally Swope


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