The following article was published in the Oregon Magazine, in February, 1932 (Vol. XXVI, No. X). The Oregon Magazine was a monthly Salem-based publication edited by Murray Wade, was established in 1918.
How Does Oregon’s Photographic Art Rank?
The portrait study on this page was exhibited at the Pacific International Photographers Convention held this past year and was awarded salon honors. It is the work of a firm known throughout the Pacific Coast and one of which the state of Oregon may justly be proud.
Commenting upon the study, Miss Gunnell said, “I was hurrying to the studio from a home portrait sitting and when passing Wilson Park, this lone figure smoking his pipe in the glow of the setting sun attracted my attention, and although late, I turned back. When I complimented him upon his fine white beard, he said, ‘It isn’t as long as it was. The children followed calling me Kris Kringle, so I cut part of it off.’ The identity of this man was not known until after the news of the salon honor award was published in a Salem newspaper, and then it was learned that he was truly at life’s sunset that December afternoon, as he died early in the year.”
Edwin Markham, Dean of American Poets, wrote in a letter not long ago, “Gunnell & Robb Studio of Salem, Oregon, create as fine portraits as one may find in Manhattan, New York.” So like many other Oregon products, the work of these artists rank with the very best.
As an Marion County Historical Society newsletter article (Historic Marion Vol. 26, No. 4, April 1988) relates:
New-timers may ask, “Who was Kathryn Gunnell?” but old timers will remember the Gunnell & Robb Studio in the Oregon Building from 1924-1932, her creative posing in photographing individuals or groups and Salem High School yearbooks. Then she tirelessly promoted sales of Oregon products by motion pictures and by mail, and attending conventions and state fairs. A colorful personality, with bright orange hair always welldone, she was inner-directed in her role as a Western person trying to bring Oregon to the U.S., according to her closest friend, Bea Drury, and Jon Drury, who also had contacts with her in Hollywood. Kathy, born in Colorado Springs, died in Salem, March 9, 1987. Her negatives now ar property of the Marion County Historical Society.
The Willamette Heritage Center now holds a collection of her personal papers, negatives and photographs (approximately 27 cubic feet). They are currently unprocessed, but we are working on getting them catalogued, into our museum database and available for researchers.