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Ray Boynton

Theme/Style – California Scene, California Regionalism, landscapes

Media – Oils, frescos, murals, pastels, drawings

Artistic Focus – Ray Boynton, known as the “dean of fresco painters,” produced early mural work paralleling that of Diego Rivera without being derivative. He began painting landscapes upon his move to Marin County in 1920, and is best known for his many canvases and murals, created in both oils and pastels, of the Mother Lode country and old California landmarks.

Career Highlights –

• Born in Iowa, Ray Boynton moved to Chicago in 1903 and worked odd jobs to pay for his education at the Academy of Fine Arts. He moved to Spokane, Washington in 1908, and to San Francisco in 1915.
• Boynton pioneered the fresco medium in California in 1917, with a fresco painted on the wall of a Los Altos, California, home. He also created the first large-scale public mural, in the auditorium at Mills College.
• When the Coit Tower murals project was funded in 1934 by the Public Works of Art Project, Ray Boynton not only became one of the muralists–he also became its de facto counselor, offering technical and creative advice to the other muralists.
• Although Boynton believed that art should not be divorced from the social issues of the artist’s time, he was somewhat uncomfortable about government support given to artists during the Depression. He did not think that the world “owed artists a living,” and willingly asked “whether art made civilization or civilization art.”