Joy Pratt Markham, the Artist
by Lisa Orton
Joy Pratt was born in Springdale, Arkansas in 1894. Her family moved to Fayetteville in 1900 and purchased a 40-acre homestead on what is now called Markham Hill. They called it Pratt Place. After her father, C. L. Pratt, suffered major financial losses, there still were enough family resources to send both daughters, Joy and Evangeline, to the University of Arkansas. Joy graduated in 1915 with a degree in art and went on to study under George Bellows at the Art Institute in Chicago. It was there she met and married Hogan Markham, a Dartmouth graduate then doing graduate work in science at the University of Chicago.
Shortly after their marriage the two returned to Fayetteville where they created an additional use for Pratt Place by establishing a summer camp which opened in 1921. To provide themselves with a year-round income, Hogan and Joy also created the Phoenix Country Day School in Phoenix, Arizona, which operated from September through May each year. Hogan and Joy had one child, a son named Gay Pratt Markham who was born in 1928. Hogan and Joy divorced in 1931. Gay died in 1950 at the age of 22 in a tragic plane accident. Joy earned a living over the years on Markham Hill from running the summer camps, teaching art, giving horseback riding lessons, selling flowers, and renting out the old camp cabins on the Pratt property to students, hippies, and professors. She lived in the family home until her death in 1976 and willed all her assets and land to the University of Arkansas.
One of Joy’s loves her entire life was art. Excerpts from various articles follow.
Fayetteville Democrat, October 22, 1915 - “Fayetteville Girl Takes First Prizes in Art at Dallas Fair”:
First prizes in both oil and portraiture and in still life painting in the Art Exhibit, Texas State Fair, Dallas, were awarded to Miss Joy Pratt of Fayetteville, who has four pictures on exhibition. Considering that the Dallas Fair is the largest state fair in the South and that pictures by artists from all points in Texas and all southern states were in competition with Miss Pratt’s, the honor won by her for Arkansas is all the greater. Miss Pratt has studied art under Miss Galbraith, Art Department, University of Arkansas, for the past four years, and is at present, a pupil at the Art Institute, Chicago. She shows promise of a brilliant future in her chosen field of endeavor.
Fayetteville Democrat, April 23, 1919 - “Fayetteville Girls Win Art Honors in Chicago”:
Another Fayetteville girl, Mrs. Joy Pratt Markham, who also received her first training at the University under Misses Galbraith and Metzger, is now teaching in the Art Institute at Chicago, and has been elected corresponding secretary of the Art Students League. That two of the four offices of the metropolis’ organization should fall to Arkansas girls is a matter of much congratulations in University circles.
Fayetteville Daily Democrat, March 16, 1921 - “Joy Pratt Markham To Open Summer Camp and Art School Here”:
A summer camp school of art and sciences will be established in Fayetteville on June 29th by Mr. and Mrs. Hogan Markham of Chicago. The school will accommodate twenty select pupils at first, and the camp will be established at the Pratt home in southwest Fayetteville. Mrs. Markham was formerly Miss Joy Pratt of this place and is a graduate of the School of Art, University of Arkansas, and has been a student for several years of the Art Institute of Chicago and other art schools. Since her marriage and residence in Chicago she has become prominently identified with the art life of the city and was at one time president of the Chicago Art Club. Her husband is an instructor in science in a Chicago college and the two will direct the art and science courses of their summer camp, employing other teachers for other branches than their own specialties. Pupils will camp at the school and will board at the Pratt home, which is known as one of the summer resorts of the Ozarks.
Fayetteville Daily Democrat, Apr 27, 1922 - “Local Artist’s Work Exhibited at Memphis”:
Mrs. Joy Pratt Markham of this place, artist, has a picture on exhibition at the display of the Southern Artists’ Association at the Brooks Memorial Gallery Park, Memphis being shown until May 30th. The exhibit opened April 15th. Mrs. Markham’s picture is entitled “Memories” and is considered a fine piece of work. Mrs. Markham is a graduate of the University of Arkansas School of Art, Class of 1915, and of the Chicago Art Institute where she spent the last six years and where last spring, she delivered a course of twelve lectures. While a resident of Chicago Mrs. Markham was elected secretary of the Art Club of Chicago and appeared in a number of exhibits. Last year she won a scholarship offered to the ten leading young artists of this country by the Art Students League of New York, an honor she did not accept but which she transferred to an art student friend. An exhibit of her work will be on display in charge of the Art Department of the Arkansas Federation of Women’s Clubs state convention to be held at Blytheville, Arkansas in May.
Fayetteville Daily Democrat, Nov 19, 1923:
Joy Pratt Markham, Artist Studio, Pratt Mountain, one mile west of town. Lessons in drawing, clay modeling and watercolor and oil painting. Courses in and lectures on home decoration, home and civic architecture, home and civic landscape gardening, costume design, history of art, contemporary art and artists, and picture appreciation. In connection with these latter courses and lectures, Mrs. Markham’s fine collection of colored prints and lantern slides are used.
Fayetteville Daily Democrat, Nov 3, 1934:
The Art Students League of Fayetteville was organized an evening this week with Mrs. Paul Heerwagen, Jr. as president, at a meeting held at the home of Mrs. Joy Pratt Markham. Purpose of the League was described as “An organized effort to foster all art impulses in Fayetteville.” No membership fee will be charged, and all persons interested in developing and encouraging an appreciation of the fine arts are urged to enroll in the League. All existing study groups in music, literature, landscape gardening and other branches of the arts and crafts will be invited to elect a representative to compose, together with the executives of the League, a Board of Directors. This Board will be authorized to engage local artists or outsiders to present lectures, concerts, etc. in this city. Modest admission prices will be charged for these and they will be open to the public as well as League members. Organizations similar to the Art Students League of Fayetteville are active in nearly every progressive city in the United States.
In the mid-1950s Joy’s financial situation underwent a dramatic reversal when she sold the now valuable land which she had purchased years ago in Arizona. Joy continued her interest in the arts and education, became one of Fayetteville’s philanthropists, and donated all her assets and land to the University of Arkansas in her will.
Today, the Joy Pratt Markham Endowment Fund helps support the Joy Pratt Markham Visiting Artist/Scholar Series at the University of Arkansas. The Joy Pratt Markham Gallery within the Walton Arts Center presents exhibitions of works by both emerging and internationally recognized artists.
Joy's sister Evangeline often sat for Joy and other local artists. In 1916, when Joy was 22 and Evangeline was 18, Joy painted Evangeline reading at a window in Old Main.