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Jason (Jessie) Herron (1900 – 1984)

Updated: Sep 12, 2023

Winged Male Figure - Apollo, c. 1930s, polychrome bas-relief of cast aggregate, 12 x 26 inches; the mold from which this cast was taken by the artist is illustrated in St. Gaudens, Maurine, Emerging from the Shadows: A Survey of Women Artists Working in California, 1860-1960, Schiffer Publishing, Inc. (2015), p. 487; provenance includes Estate of Spencer Jon Helfen; presented in a newer wood frame


About the Bas-Reilef

Winged Male Figure is an extraordinarily rare bas-relief created around the time Jason Herron served as the Federal Art Project (FAP) sculpture supervisor for Los Angeles. Although Herron produced other bas-reliefs, such as Woman with Red Ball (Collection of Mitchell Wolfson, Jr., courtesy of the Wolfsonian - Florida International University), there are no other known examples of this work. In her encyclopedic Emerging from the Shadows: A Survey of Women Artists Working in California, 1860-1960, Maurine St. Gaudens describes the mold for this work, "Winged Male Figure - Apollo was originally executed as a mold from which a bas-relief would have been cast. This is the negative master form with the rebar supports evident verso. It is unknown whether a completed bas-relief was ever cast from the mold, but at some point, the artist treated the mold as an independent work adding polychrome to the surface." Like the original mold described by St. Gaudens, Herron painted the bas-relief to create a beautiful surface effect with subtle shadows and shimmering highlights. The underlying form is a sleek and stylized art deco image that fits elegantly with the prevailing 1930s Machine Age aesthetics of the type which adorned buildings across the country.

About the Artist

Jason Herron was one of the most prominent female sculptors living and working in California during the first half of the 20th century. Born in Denver, Colorado, her given name was Jessie Emerson Herron, but she assumed the name “Jason” early in her professional career. As an infant, Herron moved with her family to Los Angeles. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University and studied art at L’Academie Colarrossi in Paris, the Los Angeles Art Institute, the Otis Art Institute, and the University of Southern California. Herron was active in the Federal Art Project, a New Deal program which provided work to artists across the country. Herron served as Supervisor and Assistant Supervisor of Sculpture for the Federal Art Project in Los Angeles. Together with Henry Lion and Sherry Peticolas, Herron sculpted a work entitled The Power of Water in Lafayette Park in Los Angeles. She also sculpted two large works, Erda and Modern Youth, both of which were placed in Los Angeles Country Schools by the Project. Herron was well respected not only as an artist, but also as a savvy arts administrator. In 1941, she served as the Southern California Chairperson for National Art Week, an ambitious program with the dual purposes of promoting the sale of paintings, sculpture, drawings and prints for the benefit of artists who were still struggling under the weight of the Great Depression and providing the opportunity for average Americans to purchase artwork at a fraction of the customary prices by avoiding the traditional gallery system. Herron served on the board of governors of the Los Angeles County Art Institute and the Otis Art Institute. She was a member of the Los Angeles Art Association, California Art Club, Western Women Art Association, and the Southern California Artists. Herron exhibited nationally during the 1930s and 1940s, including at the Legion of Honor (San Francisco), the National Academy of Design (New York), the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Corcoran Gallery of Art (Washington DC). She won prizes at the Los Angeles County Fair (1934), the Pomona Fair (1934), the Ebell Club (Los Angeles 1935 and 1939), and the California Art Club (1946). She is listed in Who Was Who in American Art and other standard references.


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