Medal Award Honoring Dale Meyers
Clockwise from top: Dale Meyers, Dale Meyers Medal, Landscape
There is no doubt that the captivating, even beguiling, watercolors of Dale Meyers-Cooper will be etched in the history of both the American and global art scene and we at Allied Artists of America remain extraordinarily proud that Dale, as the trail blazer she was, became the first woman elected president of our illustrious organization. She served AAA for many years. We are very thankful for the new award and medal "The Dale Meyers Cooper Memorial Award" established in her honor.
D A L E M E Y E R S C O O P E R M E D A L A W A R D
“Because of my life-long interest in watercolor, I wanted to recognize and encourage
artists in this medium. In 1980, my husband Mario Cooper, the eminent sculptor, watercolorist, and teacher, designed and executed the DALE MEYERS COOPER MEDAL for me to donate to art organizations to help them enhance their awards programs. It is a two and one-half inch bronze reproduction of my profile on a field of stars representing Aquarius, the Water-Bearer and my sign of the zodiac. The reverse side of the medal is blank so that the name of the organization and the recipient, date, and exhibition or painting (or whatever may be appropriate) might be inscribed by the presenters.
The winner is to be selected by the Jury of Awards of the exhibiting organization or
society, and there are NO restrictions as to whether the work is to be transparent, abstract, traditional, or experimental. The only requirement is that it be in aquamedia.
Monetary awards have a way of disappearing all too quickly, but a medal is a life-long reminder of achievement recognized.”
Dale Meyers, N.A., A.W.S.
Dale Meyers Cooper, an exceptionally talented Artist and an Honorary Lifetime President of the Allied Artists of America, actively served as our President between 1975 and 1978.
Dale Meyers Cooper died peacefully in her sleep on August 28, 2017, at East Longmeadow Skilled Nursing in East Longmeadow, MA. She was 95 years old at the time of her passing.
She was also a President Emeritus of The American Watercolor Society; the following vignette was published in the AWS Newsletter, founded by Dale herself in 1961, in Winter 1991. Dale served as President of AWS from 1993 to 2002.
(This is a fragment of the original vignette; to read this text in its entirety please refer to our Newsletter on our website: alliedartistsofamerica.org.)
Why, everyone knows Dale Meyers! That may be close to the truth – but read on.
It was Dale who started the AWS newsletter in 1961. She took the job of founding editor of the newsletter at the earnest request of AWS President Mario Cooper. He was not yet her husband, but she certainly must have been in love. Some five years later she began to introduce to her readers in a series of what she called vignettes the various members who were active in AWS operations. They were true vignettes – just a paragraph or two on each subject, with several grouped in each issue for a year or so, and these were the origin of the idea for the present longer biographies.
Dale Meyers was born in Chicago in 1922. Her father’s family had come to this country from Baden Baden on the Rhine; her grandmother had been in Chicago during the great fire of 1871. Dale can remember her telling how she and her family stood in the waters of Lake Michigan as the flames raced across the city, but their home was spared.
Dale says her own sweet tooth can be accounted for by the fact that her father William Wettever was an executive of a large candy company in the city – she remembers him bringing home at one time a gross of suckers. Fortunately, her grandfather and an uncle were both dentists. Her father also brought home sample booklets of wrapping papers and brightly tinted foils with which the little girl played by the hour. The little colored paper cups in which the chocolates were nestled were also a great fascination, but it was the colors of the foils which she loved the most and she believes artistic seeds may have been sowed at that time.
Her mother’s family came from France, so in Dale’s veins runs the blood of two nationalities that have never been known to get along with each other. Even now she sometimes cannot let her right hand know what her left is doing. (Of course, we all suffer from that ailment, but most of us don’t have such a good excuse for it.) The Franco/German animosity did not cease with her parents’ marriage – in fact it intensified, and Dale and her sister became what are now known as latch-key kids. Dale says she doesn’t remember much of the custody battles; what she does remember is being parked somewhere once with a large box of her father’s stationery and four bottles of india inks. She did a one-artist shoe in one day, using all the inks and most of the stationery.
Her mother went to Hollywood and became a designer of ladies’ fashions, achieving considerable success doing dresses for the starlets. She married again – an FBI agent who took Dale to the movies occasionally and impressed her by placing a big “Official Business” sign behind the windshield of his car when he parked it.
In Winnetka, one of Chicago’s North Shore suburbs, Dale attended New Trier High School and says she has very fond memories of that privilege. The school was at that time, and still is, noted for its scholastic standards; its curriculum probably surpasses many a small college today. She then went to California to join her mother and attend Glendale College, continuing to major in art.
“So, after all this majoring in art, what did I do?” she writes. “My aptitude test in school had shown that I was potentially either an artist or teacher, with actress a poor third – this rather interesting in light of my career that followed. I went into modeling. I had modeled as a child for Marshall Field in Chicago, and now I began doing the same for I. Magnin (along with a girl named Esther Williams), and Saks Fifth Avenue in Los Angeles. I even made a screen test for Republic Pictures, but I was not photogenic enough, so my acting career was stillborn. Later I did shows for Nieman Marcus in Dallas. When you went out on the runway dressed in their clothes they loaded you down with real jewels and expensive furs. As soon as you returned to the dressing room several pairs of hands reached out to relieve you of the jewels and furs. I once got entangled in the zipper of an evening gown, and it had to be cut off me. It was a $750 frock and that was a lot of bucks in those days!”
Later she worked in the high-altitude division of a firm called AIResearch. She wasn’t in the high altitude – she was a secretary, but the FBI clearance that was required came in handy later when she was asked to work for NASA on Apollo II and the Mars-Viking projects. She applied for work at the Walt Disney studio but found they were in the throes of a difficult strike.
By this time World War II was well advanced. Dale was wooed and won by a young man named Jay Crittenden, who graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis in ’41. Like most graduates of the services academies that year he found himself in active combat almost immediately. As a lieutenant aboard the heavy cruiser Pensacola he went through six major engagements in the Pacific Theatre. The ship was torpedoed and Jay’s roommate killed, but he survived. Upon his return to the States he and Dale were married. Fourteen months later she was a widow. Jay had gone into flight training in Dallas, got his wings in Pensacola and then began instrument flying instruction at Lake City, Florida., where he was killed in a mid-air collision. There was nothing Dale could do but return to California, where seven months later she gave birth to their daughter, Dale, Jr.
While the girl was still an infant Dale went back to work, this time for American Airlines. There she met an employee of another airline, Robert Meyers of United, and in due time they married. Another move, this time to San Francisco, where her son Steven was born. However, since they were with the airlines they moved constantly: Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Washington and back to San Francisco.
Now the kids were growing up. During their time in the East, Dale and her daughter began to share a new mutual enjoyment and rapport: showing two long haired dachshunds to their eventual championships. Even Steve was roped into the act for an occasional brushing or walk, but it was the two Dales who got up at four AM to drive to Albany for a show, or spend two days in the basement of Madison Square Garden for the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club show.
“My art career had been very much on the back burner” says Dale. “Now it was time to get back to basics, I realized, and specifically into the medium of watercolor. I signed up for classes at Art Students League and went to work. As a side interest I joined two other woman artists to open the Little Gallery in Manhasset, Long Island, and among our very first artists were Mario Cooper and Barse Miller. I lost no time in signing up for classes with Mario, and that really set me on the right road with my art.”
But her family was again moved to Washington, so Dale took up her studies at the Corcoran Gallery School of Fine Arts; at the same time she taught at the Kefauver School of Art, which was run by the wife of the late Senator. She had come to realize that her marriage was not working out, so she and her daughter returned to New York and she enrolled once again at the Art Students League. Her art was now her basic aim in life, but Dale, Jr. was at Wellesley College, so in order to support them both Dale went back to work and became the assistant to the head of a buying office for foreign department stores. This job required her to serve as secretary (a good, she says), typist (horrible typist), assistant buyer (pretty good), linguist (terrible) and product detective (a veritable 007). Along the way she met a lot of foreign buyers and learned, among other things, that you could not sell a garment in Sweden if it was blue and yellow because those are the colors of the Swedish flag, nor lavender in Latin America since that is a funeral color in those countries, and a black bow is never placed on a child’s dress in Peru.
From the time she had to move back to Washington, she and Mario had kept in touch. In 1964 the problems in both their marriages had been resolved, so they were married in October of that year. Now, at long last, Dale was sailing into quiet waters.
without doubt, but by no means any less busy. It would be hard to imagine a couple whose interests and activities were more closely intertwined. Dale had been elected to AWS in 1964; Mario had been president since 1959. From the very beginning of his administration he had made it clear that he believed that the Society should take full advantage of the trend that by that time had become so evident everywhere; the increasing number of women in the workplace. With the two now living and working together it was inevitable that Dale would become more and more involved in AWS affairs. She happily added “Wife of the President” to her titles and rolled up her sleeves. She has served as a gracious hostess at all our gatherings, and besides committee chairmanships and the duties of serving on the Board and as a jury member, which she shared many other AWS women members, she has had the additional tasks of supervising the moving of our offices three times, proofreading the catalog, helping to hang the show, etc. All this while keeping up her own production and showing of paintings.
In 1972 she was elected an Associate of the National Academy of Design and in 1979 became an Academician. She also served a three-year term as president of Allied Artists of America.
Don’t jump to the conclusion that all this kept her tied down. She and Mario went around the world in 1967 and to Russia in 1974. In 1969 Mario was one of a small group of artists who were invited by the National Gallery of Art to cover the launch of Apollo 10 at Cape Canaveral, Florida. The launching of Apollo 11 followed later the same year, and this time Dale was with him as an artist in her own right, making good use of the FBI clearance she had obtained several years before.
So now she was in the full-time art career that had so long been her goal. She says “Naturally, being the wife of such an illustrious painter and sculptor as Mario opened many doors for me, but I do think it was his teaching that really did it.” That may well be, but it cannot be said that Dale appropriated any of his painting style or mannerisms. Those who have viewed any of their joint exhibitions can attest to the fact that Dale is very much her own artist. In their teaching the two soon became recognized as a team and began their joint work workshops which have been in great demand all over the United States and continue up to the present time. In 1984 Dale brought out a little book of her sketches done on these travels titled “Sketchbook.” Over two dozen are in full color with the rest in black-and-white halftone. It also shows the artist-traveler how to keep a watercolor sketch file for use as a journal of experiences. She says it has been warmly received.
She enjoys doing the workshops and meeting people with the same goals in life. She also has more tangible awards to show for her work; medals from AWS, the National Gallery of Arts Club and the prestigious Samuel F.B. Morse Gold Medal of the National Academy, among others. She has decided that those aptitude tests she took at New Trier High School so many years ago were pretty much on the mark after all. It just took her a little time to put it all together.