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Evaline Ness American Mid Century Illustrator Part 1

February 24, 2020

Evaline Ness (April 24, 1911 – August 12, 1986) was an American commercial artist, illustrator, and author of children’s books. She illustrated more than thirty books for young readers and wrote several of her own. She is noted for using a great variety of artistic media and methods.

As illustrator of picture books she was one of three Caldecott Medal runners-up each year from 1964 to 1966 and she won the 1967 Medal for Sam, Bangs and Moonshine, which she also wrote. In 1972 she was the U.S. nominee for the biennial, international Hans Christian Andersen Award for children’s illustrators.

Great mix of printed patterns and pen and ink to create both texture and depth.

Evaline was born Evaline Michelow in Union City, Ohio and grew up in Pontiac, Michigan. As a child she illustrated her older sister’s stories with collages cut from magazine pictures. She studied at Ball State Teachers College 1931–32 to become a librarian, then at Chicago Art Institute 1933–35 to become a fashion illustrator. For a while she was also a fashion model.

She adopted and retained the name of her second husband Eliot Ness, married 1939 to 1945. She had previously married one McAndrew, and she married engineer Arnold A. Bayard in 1959, who survived her.

In 1938 Eliot Ness was already famous as a former United States Treasury agent. (As leader of a legendary team nicknamed “The Untouchables” he had worked to enforce Prohibition in Chicago, Illinois.) Now he was the recently divorced Safety Director for the city of Cleveland, Ohio, with a new team of Untouchables (men who cannot be bribed). By April 1939, when he cleaned up the Mayfield Road Gang, Ness and Evaline McAndrew were an item in Cleveland, where she was a fashion illustrator at Higbee’s department store. After their marriage (October 14), they remained an item because she would “keep house—and her job”, and because they went out with a female bodyguard for Evaline. A friend of the couple once said that “Evaline liked being Eliot’s wife when he was a famous and influential public official. She liked his prominence, power and fame. He loved her, no question about that. He always called her ‘Doll’.” After a 1942 scandal ruined his standing in Cleveland, the Nesses moved to Washington late that year. Evaline studied at the Corcoran College of Art and Design 1943–45 and taught art classes for children there.

After divorce she moved to New York City and worked 1946 to 1949 at Saks Fifth Avenue as a fashion illustrator.

Around 1950 she traveled to Europe and Asia, concluding in Italy, where she spent 18 months sketching until her money ran out. I

In Rome she studied at Accademia de Belle Arti 1951–52. Back in the United States, Ness found no work in San Francisco, so returned to New York and “assignments doing fashion, advertising and editorial art”. At some point she studied with the Art Students League and she taught art to children at Parsons The New School for Design 1959–60.

Check back in to check out part 2 of Evaline’s story next monday.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Marlys waters permalink
    February 24, 2020 11:52 am

    WOW

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