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The Cover
March 3, 1999

Northwest Landscape

JAMA. 1999;281(9):779. doi:10.1001/jama.281.9.779

Another member of the Northwest School of Painting (JAMA cover, February 24, 1999) was Kenneth Callahan (1905-1986). Less flamboyant in his lifestyle, Callahan has perhaps not commanded as much popular attention as Morris Graves, but he was equally important. Along with Graves, he was dubbed a "Mystic Painter of the Northwest" in the 1953 Life magazine article that featured, besides Graves and Callahan, two other painters of the Northwest scene, Mark Tobey and Guy Anderson. Linking Callahan's landscapes to the human condition, the writer saw his "turbulent clouds" as symbols of "the unending struggle of humanity," while the "rocky slabs below" became "the social bonds and customs imprisoning men." "Mystic Painter" was not a title Callahan especially cared for, but it was not new. The New York critics had first used it some years earlier, in 1946, to describe Callahan's first one-man show, at the American British Art Center in New York City; it stuck, becoming, in effect, his epithet. That show also marked the beginning of what is now called Callahan's "definitive style."