Thursday, February 2, 2012

Jackson Pollock's Iowa Roots

 © Les Coleman, Pollock's Palette (1972). Household paint on hardboard. Photo: Colin Sackett.

From Henry Adams, Tom and Jack: The Intertwined Lives of Thomas Hart Benton and Jackson Pollock. NY: Bloomsbury Press, 2009, pp. 22-23—

[Jackson] Pollock's mother, Stella McClure, the eldest child in her family, was born on May 20, 1875, in a log house near the little town of Mount Ayr, Iowa. Her parents were stern Presbyterians who believed that there was just one straight and narrow path to salvation. Life on the McClure farm was harsh and strictly regulated, and misfortunes, which came frequently, were accepted with a kind of stoic resignation. One of Stella's sisters died of convulsions in her arms; another died young of tuberculosis. Around 1890 the farm failed, and the family moved to Tingley, Iowa, where her father, John McClure, found work as a brick-mason and plasterer…
The background of Jackson Pollock's father was, if possible, even grimmer than that of his mother. Two years younger than his wife, Roy Pollock was born to the name of LeRoy McCoy on February 25, 1877, on a small farm in Ringgold County, Iowa. In 1879, when LeRoy was two, his mother and sister both died of tuberculosis. Despairing and destitute, John McCoy gave away his infant son to James and Lizzie Pollock, a poor farm couple in Tingley who were not his relatives.