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Una McCann

Una McCann

Female 1913 - 2013  (100 years)

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  • Name Una McCann 
    Born 15 Feb 1913  Redwood City, California Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Female 
    Biography Born in Redwood City, CA on Feb. 15, 1913. McCann grew up and attended public schools on the Monterey Peninsula. She then studied at the CSFA and Académie Ranson in Paris. In 1936 she assisted Diego Rivera on murals for the GGIE. In 1940 she married artist Jack Wilkinson and moved to Eugene, OR where she painted a mural in the Kaufman Bldg. She lived in Easthampton, NY until 1986 and then moved to Segré, France where she currently lives. Exh: SFMA, 1937, 1939; CSFA, 1938; Parrish Art Museum (Southampton, NY), 1981; NAD, 1982.  [1
    Biography 21 Mar 2004  [2
    In the 1930s a young art student named Una McCann started hanging around one of the engineering feats of the day, the construction of the Bay Bridge in San Francisco. Though, on account of her sex, she was not officially allowed on the work site, McCann cajoled her way past the bridge's safety inspectors and produced hundreds of ink and watercolor sketches of the project and its workmen. A handful of those sketches found their way to Eugene, where they are on display as part of a group show at the Karin Clarke Gallery through April 3.

    McCann is now Una Wilkinson, 91 years old and still painting at her farmhouse in France. "I am painting all the time really," she said by phone from her home in Segre. "In bad weather I do more still life rather than going outside because it rains so much here, and I can't manage to paint in the rain."

    Born in Redwood City, Calif., McCann studied art at the California School of Fine Arts. She became Una Wilkinson when she married Jack Wilkinson, a charismatic painter and art teacher at the University of Oregon from 1941 to 1968. They went from Eugene to Louisiana, where her husband died in 1974, and Una Wilkinson moved to Long Island and then to France. During her career she met a number of art world luminaries. She once assisted Diego Rivera with a mural. In Long Island, she moved in the same social circles as Jackson Pollock and Willem De Kooning. Here she painted a mural at the Kaufman's Department Store building, now ShoeAholic. She also assisted her husband with his large mural at the post office in Burns.

    Painting, she said, is well supported in France. "Even people who run grocery stores attend the local art shows," she said.

    While she's a fan of abstraction, Wilkinson doesn't care for some contemporary art. "I am not particularly interested in exhibitions that concentrate on animals floating in tanks of water or piles of rocks on the floor," she said. "I have piles of rocks in my house here and there because I like rocks. To put them in an art gallery is nice for the rocks. But to have a whole exhibition of that kind of thing does not hold my attention." Her Bay Bridge sketches, done with a light, sure hand, remain fresh and lively today. Like many drawings and paintings of their era, they combine a modernist fascination with machinery with the 1930s adulation of the workingman.

    Wilkinson said she sometimes got dangerously close to her subject. One day, without thinking, she walked a high narrow beam from one construction platform to another. "It was only about 75 or 80 feet down to a roadway full of cars," she said. "I looked at the platform ahead of me. Two guys were working on the platform. They sat there frozen. They didn't move. They just looked at me, and I could see what was going through their minds: `Is that fool woman going to fall?' '

    Her bridge sketches were previously exhibited in 1986 at the Stanford Museum of Art at Stanford University.  
    Died 6 Mar 2013  Pays de la Loire, France Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Newspaper Article 31 Mar 2013  Register-Guard - Eugene, Oregon Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Oregon artist dies at 100 in France

    Una McCann Wilkinson (1913-2013) died in the early afternoon of March 6th in Segre, France (SW of Paris). She had turned 100 years old on February 15. Born in Redwood, California she studied art at the California School of Fine Arts (later the San Francisco Art Institute). She lived in California about 27 years, then 27 years in Eugene, 6 years in Louisiana, 12 years in New York, and 28 years in France.

    While in school in San Francisco she painted a large fresco mural in the school cafeteria and did hundreds of ink drawings of the workers constructing the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. Many of these were exhibited in the San Francisco Art Museum in 1937 and at the Stanford University museum in 1986.

    She met her future husband, Jack Wilkinson, in art school in San Francisco. They both received the Phelan Traveling Scholarship (1937, 1938) for travel to Europe to study art. Both were in Europe at the outbreak of WW II.

    In 1939 Una assisted the Mexican painter, Diego Rivera, as he painted a huge mural for the San Francisco Exposition held on Treasure Island. In 1940 she married Jack Wilkinson in San Francisco. They completed a mural in the Burns, Oregon Post Office in 1941. They began living in Eugene when Jack was hired to teach at the University of Oregon, due to the sudden death of painter Lance Wood Hart.

    Una continued to paint in Eugene, helped with the development of the Maude Kerns Art Center, and painted the mural in Kaufman's store downtown. Una worked in drawing and painting as she lived in Louisiana and then New York and finally in France. She exhibited her work in 2011 at the Mairie Gallery in Segre, France.

    A new book was just published of her and Jack's drawings called Jack and Una Wilkinson - Sketchbooks.

    Una is survived by her daughter Catherine Zerner and grandchildren Rachel and Charles Theodore and a great-grandson, Aaron. Una's husband Jack, preceded her in death in 1974.

    The Schrager & Clarke Gallery at 760 Willamette Street in Eugene will have a small exhibit of Una's drawings and paintings on Saturday, May 11, from 2:00 - 4:00 p.m. The book Jack and Una Wilkinson - Sketchbooks will also be available. The public is invited.  
    Person ID I2437  Walsh - Wilson Family Tree | Craig
    Last Modified 9 Sep 2014 

    Father R. J. McCann,   b. Abt 1874, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Mother Marie Chapin,   b. Abt 1874, Oregon Find all individuals with events at this location 
    1920 United States Census - McCann Family
    1920 United States Census - McCann Family
    Census Place: San Jose, Santa Clara, California; Roll: T625_148; Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 188; Image: 519.
    Family ID F861  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Jack Wilkinson,   b. 02 Jul 1913, Berkeley, California Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 04 Aug 1974, East Hampton, New York Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 61 years) 
    Married 21 Sep 1940  [3
     1. Catherine Marie Wilkinson
    Last Modified 7 Jul 2008 
    Family ID F860  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Photos
    Jack and Una Wilkinson and their Dalmatian dog, Myrtle - From the late 1940's
    Jack and Una Wilkinson and their Dalmatian dog, Myrtle - From the late 1940's
    Jack, Una, and Catherine Wilkinson - 1950
    Jack, Una, and Catherine Wilkinson - 1950

    Documents Passenger List - "De Grasse" from Le Harve, France to New York City
    Arrival in NYC on 27 Aug 1951. New York Passenger Lists, Year: 1951; Microfilm serial: T715; Microfilm roll: T715_8027; Line: 15. (At least one living or private individual is linked to this item - Details withheld.)

  • Sources 
    1. [S4910] Artists in California 1786-1940, Edan Milton Hughes, (Crocker Art Museum), ISBN 0961611200.

    2. [S4911] Register Guard - Eugene, Oregon, 21 Mar 2004.
      By Bob Keefer

    3. [S4909] Works of Jack Wilkinson, Kenneth R. O'Connell, (University of Oregon - Dept. of Fine and Applied Arts), Chronology - Page 62 (Reliability: 2).