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Do you have information on the creator of, "The Land of Make Believe Map". artist Jaro Hess?


Jaro Hess was born in 1889 in a small Czechoslovakian village. At the age of 16, Hess joined the French Foreign Legion for what he described as “the worst five years of my life,” in Algiers, in a 1929 Grand Rapids Herald interview. He ended up escaping as a stowaway on a boat back to France.
Hess went on to graduate from the University of Prague with a degree in metallurgy, a training that brought him to the U.S. in 1910. Hess stayed briefly in Pittsburgh working at steel mills in the Midwest. He then turned to photo-etching, and then to horticulture when he moved to Bay City. His hybridization of delphiniums won him membership in the Royal Horticultural Society of London, and brought him an important contact by the name of Charles Greenway, then owner of the Booth newspaper chain.
Hess began working for Greenway as a gardener and landscaper, and moved with Greenway to a home on Reeds Lake. A story on Hess in the Herald, rival of the Booth-owned Press; however, got Hess fired. Hess turned to designing rock gardens and did landscaping for homes on Reeds and Fisk Lake, including the Blodgett estate. When the Depression came, Hess made a living tying flies for trout fishing before joining an aircraft factory out east at the start of World War II.

Back in Grand Rapids after the war, Hess painted dioramas for the Public Museum. In 1950, he retired at age 61, to devote the rest of his years to painting. He died in 1979, at the age of 90.

Hess is best known for his children’s fantasy painting, often sold as a poster, “The Land of Make Believe,” a work he created for the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago

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How did Rosen-Ducat Imaging come to be the caretaker of, "The Land Of Make Believe Print", by artist Jaro Hess?


I have to forward that if there was ever a case of serendipity, “The Land of Make Believe Map’s” entrance into my life was it.

In 1999, I was living in rural Maine and operating a cutting edge digital fine art reproduction lab. One icy cold Maine winter day I received a call from a potential client that needed an image repaired. I suggested he bring in the image and I would take a look at it and see what I could do. Later that afternoon the door to my Lab opened and in walk a local fellow with a large mounted image in his hands, it was the first time I saw, “The land of Make Believe Map”. After inspecting the image, I informed the maps owner that his image was damaged to a point that digital repairing would not be possible. I also informed him that since the image had multiple © copyright registrant listed on it and that coping the map and reproducing it would be illegal.
I decide to research the copyright owners and was able to locate the present owner of the rights to the image.

In 1999, the image was owned by Hagstrom Map Company, Queens, New York. I contacted Hagstrom and purchased a three year exclusive global license to reproduce the work of art for sale. Hagstrom was know for it’s subway maps for cities around the globe, in fact I was told that, “The Land of Make Believe Map” was the only one of this type of image that the company owned. The history regarding how the image came to be owned by Hagstrom had been lost. The last printing of the map had not sold well and a large number of printed copies had been dumped in the trash. I signed the license and mailed a check and a week later received a set of litho films for production of the map. Hagstrom succumbed to the advent of online subway maps and smart phones and was acquired by American Map Corporation, which was acquired by another corporation and that corporation was acquired. I was able to contact the appropriate corporate department handling the purging of intellectual property of little interest from the corporate servers. Hess’s work was literally a couple of days away from being destroyed. I was able to acquire the image, saving it from destruction, and enjoining me to Hess’s work in a very personal manner. As far As I am aware the set of litho film I have in my files is the last remaining direct image of artist Hess’s fabled work.

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Copyright 2017 Allan Rosen-Ducat © All rights reserved

Artist Jaro Hess

Jaro Hess (1889-1977)
Jaro Hess was perhaps the most original artist of fantasy working in Grand Rapids from the 1930s through the 1960’s. His art was a rarity, created solely out of this imagination.

Hess savored the differences

They were the product of an idiosyncratic and eccentricity, “according to Hess. People come to see the painting, “the artist said, “and they ask how I got such an imagination to do them. I just tell them that I studied mathematics in school and it teaches you to think abstract thoughts. They are different,” Hess savored the differences – the absurdity.