small mountain books
The history of the West touched at one point
Arizona Triptych is held in the archives of the
National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C.
spacer spacer
Arizona Triptych
History and fiction are blended in the pages of this three-part story about artists of northern Arizona.
In Part I, a New York painter, who has learned that she is tubercular, travels west to Flagstaff in 1921, hoping for a cure. She finds a raw little town "too droll for words," but as she comes to know a few people (fictional) and know of others (historical), she becomes involved in a life very different from that of the city she has known. Told in the style of the popular fiction of the 1920s, the story takes her through twenty months of Flagstaff history.
Part II is a biography of Western artist Lillian Wilhelm Smith (1882–1972), who rode to Rainbow Bridge with Zane Grey and John Wetherill in 1913. For the following sixty years, the rest of her life, she traveled through the open miles of Arizona, painting its landscape and meeting people of all kinds.
In 1996, the grand-daughters of the fictional women who were in Flagstaff in 1921, are working for the Coconino National Forest as a US Forest Service patrol officer, a law enforcement officer, and a fire lookout. Through their memories, the lives of the women from seventy-five years earlier are carried on. A homocide tests the late twentieth-century women and turns their lives in new directions. The story goes on, unresolved, into the future, as stories do.
Life and death, love and connections—Time— are the themes that unify the three sections.
Copyright 1999
Library of Congress Catalogue Card Number 99-096950
ISBN 0-9630364-0-8
547 pages (includes index
and bibliography)
Soft cover
Read An Excerpt From the Book
Reader Reviews About Arizona Triptych
Tira St. James, artist and Arizona native
As an artist, I was particularly interested in Part II, the biography of Lillian Wilhelm Smith, an artist whose work I have long admired. Her struggles to gain success as an artist in a time when Western artists were generally ignored was very inspiring. The entire book was well written, interesting, and compelling. The fictional characters jumped off the page into reality. I recommend this book to all artists, especially women artists, to help them understand those who came before that helped to establish women in Western art as worthy of respect.
Hide Thumbs First Previous Pause Next Last
Slideshow speed: 5 seconds
  • CoverTriptychSmall
    Cover photograph courtesy of Sherry Mangum
  • LillianFamilyDuo
    Mama and 7-year-old Lillian with Richard, Arnold, Theodore, and Henry in 1889.
    Photo courtesy of Richard Williams
  • LillianPainting01Duo
    Lillian sketching at the easel.
    Photo courtesy of Museum of Northern Arizona, Flagstaff, Arizona
  • Spring in the Desert
    "Spring in the Desert" by Lillian Wilhelm Smith
  • LillianByHorsesDuo
    Joe Lee, John Wetherill, and Lillian at the Tuba Trading Post in 1913.
    Photo courtesy of Millicent Richardson and James E. Babbitt
  • Painting by Lillian Wilhelm Smith
    A painting by Lillian Wilhelm Smith
  • LillianPainting02Duo
    Lillian painting "Sunshine on the Tsegi."
    Photo courtesy of Museum of Northern Arizona
  • Canyon Shadows
    "Canyon Shadows" painted by Lillian Wilhelm Smith in Zion Canyon
  • LillianAndBurroDuo
    Lillian and Louisa Wetherill at Kayenta.
    Photo courtesy of Harvey Leake
  • Painting by Lillian Wilhelm Smith
    Painting by Lillian Wilhelm Smith of desert palms and flowers.
  • LillianPainting03Duo
    Lillian still at work well toward the end.
    Photo courtesy of Arizona Historical Foundation, Arizona State University, Tucson