Monday, February 21st is the anniversary of the birth of Douglas Arthur Teed, the son of Cyrus Teed. Most people familiar with the Koreshans, and anyone who has ever visited the Art Hall, has seen the many paintings by Douglas Arthur.
Douglas Arthur was, for all intents and purposes, abandoned by his father, Cyrus, in order to pursue what he believed to be his calling. There is no evidence to suggest however, that Cyrus Teed gave up all contact with his wife and son. Douglas Arthur eventually visited his father in Estero, but even that part of his relationship with his father isn’t totally clear. This excerpt from the Wikipedia article on Douglas Arthur tells of his reunion, of sorts, with Cyrus.
Douglas did seek out his father later in life. In 1905, he visited the Koreshan Unity. An article in the Fort Myers Press expressed gratitude of southern Florida receiving such a distinguished painter, and suggested the possibility of Teed remaining in Florida to paint. There are numerous accounts in the communal paper espousing the talents of the artist son of Koresh. A special hall was built to house 27 of his works, which Teed painted especially for the commune. The people of the Unity were flattered by Teed’s interpretation of Estero, and the uncharted surrounding Florida land. Many of these works were painted in an egg-tempera and have faded quite badly. Only a few oil paintings retain the artist’s original intent.
One such painting, “Tropical Dawn”, was presented to a member of the Unity, Victoria Gratia, at her birthday celebration in April 1905.
It seemed the relationship between father and son was a healthy one. Douglas even dedicated a poem to his father for his birthday (known to the Unity as “The Solar Festival”) on October 18, 1905, entitled, The Lost Muse. However, in 1907 Douglas sued the Koreshan Unity for overdue payment, citing the paintings which hung in the Art Hall. In 1908, a full settlement was made out of court between Douglas and the Unity. That same year his father died.
The article mentions the problems that Teed’s paintings have encountered with the Florida environment. The Florida Park Service continues to help to preserve these artifacts In July 2010, the Teed paintings were digitized. You can view the painting mentioned in the Wikipedia article by clicking here. Go to the article from July 2010 and see the links for other paintings.