Theme/Style Figurative art, portraits, still lifes, murals
Media Oils, watercolors, mosaics, lithography
Artistic Focus Though not as well-known as many of his fellow Southern California Modernists Jerre Murry’s gifts in the area of color and design were highly prized by gallerists, collectors and his Federal Art Project supervisors. He was extremely versatile, painting arresting portraits, attractive still lifes, and more abstract or Cubist figural works and landscapes with equal skill and energy. One of Murry’s greatest champions was Los Angeles Times art critic Arthur Millier, who said of Murry, “He lives in a world of ideal forms, a world in which figures move with rare rhythm, in which distances and colors have lovely measure.”
• Jerre Murry was born in Columbia, Missouri in 1904 and studied at the Detroit Academy of Art in Michigan. He then worked as an artist for the Detroit News and Detroit Free Press, and also painted portraits of the city’s prominent citizens.
• Murry traveled to the Bahamas, where he was inspired to paint Modernist scenes of island life and people.
• The Los Angeles Synchromist painter Stanton Macdonald Wright, State Supervisor for the Southern California Art Project, took an interest in Murry’s work, and after a period of private art study in Chicago, Murry settled in Los Angeles in the 1930s and worked as a muralist for the Federal Art Project. He also found employment designing stage scenery for a movie studio and did other freelance work as an artist.
• Murry exhibited in Federal Art Project shows at the Stendahl Galleries in Los Angeles and the Chamber of Commerce Gallery in Santa Barbara in 1937, and at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1939.
• In 1938 Murry created a mural for the Los Angeles Water & Power Co. The subject matter was to be “Sources of Water,” and the finished mural was titled Aquae Benedictae (Blessed Waters). Murry also created a mural for the Post Office in Boise, Idaho, and a petrachrome mural for Glendale Junior College.
• In 1939, Murry’s work was exhibited at the Golden Gate International Exposition on San Francisco’s Treasure Island and the “American Art Today” show at the New York World’s Fair. He also was included in the “All California Exhibition” at the Los Angeles Museum that same year.
• He went on to exhibit in Los Angeles at the Foundation of Western Art’s “Trends in Southern California Art” shows in 1940 and 1941, at Raymond and Raymond Gallery in Hollywood and USC’s Elizabeth Holmes Fisher Gallery (1940), and at Stendahl Galleries and the Pasadena Museum of Art (1941). Also in 1941, Murry had a solo show at En’s Gallery, and exhibited in the San Francisco Bay Area, at the Oakland Art Gallery’s Annual Exhibition of Oil Paintings.
• Murry exhibited in the Second and Third Annual Exhibitions of the Artists of Los Angeles and Vicinity at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1941 and 1942
• Murry became the director of the Spokane Art Center in Washington state, but it seems that he only remained there a short time before returning to the Los Angeles area.
• In 1942, Murry had a critically-acclaimed solo show at the Stendahl Galleries, comprising 71 of his oil paintings, watercolors and drawings; and in 1945 he again received critical notice for his exhibition at Los Angeles’s Screen Cartoonists’ Gallery.
• By the 1960s Murry was teaching art at the Inglewood Adult High School and also held private classes.
• Jerry Murry passed away in Los Angeles in 1973.
Bibliographic references are available upon request.
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