Barbara Stevenson

born St. Louis, MO 1912-died 2006
St. Louis, Missouri, United States
Active in
  • Patzcuaro, Mexico
  • American

A muralist and modernist painter, Barbara Stevenson was born in St. Louis, Missouri, and attended the St. Louis School of Fine Arts. She graduated in the middle of the Depression and in the 1930s moved to California, where she received commissions from the Federal Arts Project for murals at the Salinas Children's Hospital and the Ventura Post Office. While in California, she married former classmate and mural painter Ellwood Graham. They settled in Monterey, where Stevenson became part of a community of artists and writers that included novelist John Steinbeck; she painted the famous portrait of Steinbeck writing the first draft of his book Sea of Cortez in 1941. After 1950, Stevenson worked under the pseudonym of Judith Deim. In 1959 she left California to travel in Europe and Africa, and later settled in an Indian village near Pátzcuaro, Mexico, in the mountainous state of Michoacán. In 2000, her life was the subject of the feature-length documentary Ghost Bird: The Life and Art of Judith Deim. Directed by Irena Salina, the film won Best Documentary at the 15th Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival, and played at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival. (Hughes, Artists in California 1786-1940, 1989)