"Desert Near El Paso"

  • Biography

    Berla Emeree (1899 - 1948)

    Berla Emeree

    Landscape painter Berla Iyone Emeree was born August 7, 1899 in Wichita, Kansas, but after 1907, grew up in El Paso, Texas. At age seventeen, she studied in Philadelphia with Frank Benton Ashley Linton and Michael Jacobs, and in Texas she was a student of Jose Arpa, Xavier Gonzalez, and Rolla Taylor. 

    She was an adventurous, independent woman, fearless in her travels alone by car to possible painting sites, where she would camp out. Emeree paid her expenses on a painting trip through Arizona in 1934 by selling or exchanging her pictures for gasoline. Painting the Grand Canyon and Granite Dells near Prescott, Emeree got lost in a desolate area of the state and had to be rescued. 

    But that was her independent nature. As a seven-year-old, she won first prize in a local exhibition. At twelve, she was the proprietor of her own china painting shop. This sense of being her own boss continued throughout her life. In El Paso, she opened the Emeree School of Art in 1924, and operated the Emeree Scenic Drive School, also in El Paso, in the late 1930s and 1940s.

    Emeree's husband, William Emery, tragically died in 1922, shortly after their marriage. The young artist memorialized her husband, and her loss, by changing her last name and moving the "Y" to her original middle name of "Ione," making it "Iyone."

    Emeree exhibited her paintings of the West and western life at the Texas Fine Art Association, Austin; Dallas Museum of Fine Arts; Museum of New Mexico, Santa Fe; International Museum, El Paso; Fort Worth Museum of Art; Southern States Art League; Texas Wildflower Competitive Exhibition, San Antonio.

    Her work is in the collections of the Carnegie Public Library, Fort Worth, Texas; and Bowie High School, El Paso.

    Emeree studied in Philadelphia with Frank B.A. Linton, as well as in Holland, Belgium, France, Germany and England during a European trip in 1928-1929. She was also apparently influenced by Xavier Gonzalez, Jose Arpa and Rolla Taylor.

    Berla Iyone Emeree died in El Paso, Texas January 8, 1948 in her forty-eighth year.

    Phil and Marian Yoshiki Kovinick, "Women Artists of the American West"
    John and Deborah Powers, "Texas Painters, Sculptors & Graphic Artists"

    Born Wichita, Aug. 7, 1899; died El Paso, TX, Jan. 8, 1948. Painter, specialized in landscape. Teacher. Family moved to El Paso, TX in 1907. Studied with Frank Linton in Philadelphia. Her later Texas teachers were José Arpa of Spain, Rolla Taylor & Xavier Gonzalez of Mexico at the San Antonio Art School. Worked at Ft. Worth Public Library & College of Mines, El Paso. Founded the Berla Iyone Emeree School of Painting in El Paso, TX. in 1924. In 1928-29 she traveled and studied in Europe. In the late 1930s and 1940s, Emeree ran the Emeree Scenic Dive School in El Paso while continuing her own art. 

    Susan Craig, "Biographical Dictionary of Kansas Artists (active before 1945)"
    Dawdy, Samuels, Peggy. Illustrated Biographical Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Co., 1976., Collins, Jim, and Glenn B. Opitz, eds. Women Artists in America: 18th Century to the Present (1790-1980). Rev. and enl. ed. Poughkeepsie, N.Y.: Apollo, 1980., Who’s Who in American Art. New York: American Federation of Arts, 1936- v.1=1936-37 v.3= 1941-42 v.2=1938-39 v.4=1940-47. 1 6-7, American Art Annual. New York: American Federation of Arts, 1898-1947 1926 An Encyclopedia of Women Artists of the American West. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1998..