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Bayer, one of Aspen’s first ladies, dies

Mary Eshbaugh Hayes
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Joella Bayer, widow of artist Herbert Bayer, died Feb. 18 in Montecito, Calif. She was 96 years old.

Starting in the 1940s, when Walter Paepcke recruited Herbert Bayer to help plan the design and architectural elements for the metamorphosis of Aspen from a former silver mining town into a world-class ski resort and cultural center, the Bayers were active in Aspen’s rebirth.

They helped set design and color standards for residences and created the town logo, the aspen leaf.

Joella Syrara Haweis was born Jan. 20, 1907, in Bagni di Lucca, Italy. She lived in Florence until 1923 when she, her mother and sister moved to Paris.

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In Paris, Joella lived an enchanted life with her mother, poet Mina Loy, and her sister, Fabi (Benedict). They ran in the most artistic of circles, being friends with writer James Joyce and artist Marcel Duchamp.

On Aug. 5, 1927, Joella married Julien Levy and later that year the couple moved to New York where they opened the Julien Levy Gallery, which showcased contemporary photography and surrealist and neo-romantic artwork. The couple had three sons and divorced in 1942.

In New York Joella met artist-architect Herbert Bayer, a student of the Bauhaus in Germany, whose work in painting, photography, sculpture and typography had gained world renown. On Dec. 3, 1944, they were married and two years later they moved to Aspen.

In Aspen Joella was a renowned hostess, often for visitors from the Eastern art and intellectual establishment. Aspenites remember her as always elegantly dressed, often with hat and gloves. They lived in an elegant Victorian with a studio where Herbert and a crew of artists produced a World Atlas for Paepcke’s Container Corporation.

Later they had an apartment and studio downtown (in the building now owned by Stein Eriksen). Herbert shared that studio with brother-in-law architect Fritz Benedict. (Fabi had come for a visit and met and married Fritz.) On display there was a portrait done of Joella by Salvatore Dali. And still later, the Bayers built a home and studio on Red Mountain.


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