|John Lear's art might have saved him from harm's way during World War II.|
A niece, Susan MacBride, recalled that when he was assigned
to Fort Riley, Kansas, "the generals and the officers found out he was an
artist [and] diverted his talents to doing portraits of the officers
and their families."
Later, she said, he was assigned to illustrate military manuals, booklets and charts for service-wide distribution.
On Wednesday, John Brock Lear Jr., 98, artist and teacher, died of pneumonia at Chestnut Hill Hospital. He lived in Wyndmoor.
His work is in the permanent collections of the Philadelphia Museum of
Art, the Florida Gulf Coast Art Center in Clearwater, the Reading
Museum, and the Woodmere Art Museum in Chestnut Hill.
His last exhibition was at the Chestnut Hill Gallery & Frame Shoppe
in May, MacBride said, and close to his death he was preparing for a
show in Stockton, N.J.
He worked in drawing, watercolor and oil.
Mr. Lear taught illustration at Rosemont College from 1955 to 1963, at
the Hussian School of Art in Society Hill in the 1950s and 1960s, as
well as at the Philadelphia College of Art.
From 1963 to 1975, he was the art director at the Presbyterian Board of Christian Education.
A 1928 graduate of the Chestnut Hill Academy, he studied illustration
under Thornton Oakley at the Pennsylvania Museum and School of
Industrial Arts, forerunner of the University of the Arts, graduating
Though he was not sent overseas during World War II, MacBride said, the
surreal aspects of his art were influenced by "his horror at the
destruction of life and the beauty of the world."
Mr. Lear was a member or associate of the American Watercolor Society,
the Philadelphia Art Alliance, the Philadelphia Watercolor Club, the
Philadelphia Sketch Club, the Art Teachers Association and the Woodmere
Besides MacBride, Mr. Lear is survived by niece Mary Randall Hopkins and nephew John Lear Randall.
A funeral service is scheduled for 11 a.m. tomorrow at the Church of
St. Martin in the Fields, St. Martin's Lane at Willow Grove Avenue, in
Chestnut Hill. Burial is at Doylestown Cemetery.
Written by Walter F. Naedele for the Philadelphia Inquirer
Submitted by Stephenson's Auction, Dec. 30, 2008