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A portrait and landscape painter who received special attention for his
floral work, Adrian Brewer was born in St. Paul, Minnesota and raised
between there and New York City as one of six sons of Rose Koempel
Brewer and Nicholas Brewer, prominent late 19th-century portrait and
Throughout his life, Adrian was influenced by
his father, and during his childhood, he was exposed to many visual
artists as well as opera stars and prominent literary people.
Brewer attended the College of St. Thomas in St. Paul and also the University
of Minnesota. During this time, he studied with Delle E Randall
at the St. Paul Institute School of Art and at the Art Students League* in New
York City. But he later said he learned more from his father's
friends including Charles Hawthorne, Edwin Blashfield and Irving Wiles
than from his art classes.
In 1915, he returned to St. Paul
where he taught briefly at the St. Paul Institute School of Art and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and also did commercial art for a bank, a thermostat
company and Pillsbury flour mills.
During World War I, he was a
pilot and did patriotic illustration. After the War, he traveled
with his father to assist him with commissions and began getting
recognition for his own work. He enrolled at the School of the
Art Institute of Chicago* and in 1920, was elected a member of the
Palette and Chisel Club* of Chicago.
He and his father first
traveled to Arkansas in 1912 where they had an exhibition of their
paintings in hotels in Hot Springs and Little Rock. There he met
Edwina Cook, who became his wife, and they settled in Little Rock,
although he had a period of commuting back and forth between Minnesota
He began focusing on landscapes, doing
plein-air* painting, and traveled extensively in the South and
Southwest including Texas, Arkansas, New Mexico and Arizona. One of
the paintings from that period is titled Navajo Country
lived in Arkansas for thirty-three years and became known for his
portraits of prominent citizens. He turned to this subject in
1929 for economic reasons, painting over 300 Arkansas subjects.
it is thought that his genius lay in pastoral landscape paintings of
the Southwest and rural scenes of his adopted state. In addition
to Arkansas landscapes, he made annual trips to Texas, where he painted
and sold his works in the San Antonio area. His skyscapes were
especially popular, and "he was thought to be the first painter working
in Texas 'to make a systematic effort' to paint Texas skies. (Dawdy, V.
III, p. 48).
He was an entrant in the 1927 San Antonio, Texas art exhibit titled
"Texas Wildflower Landscapes", and in 1928, in that same exhibition
event, distinguished himself with a first place Open Category floral
landscape winner titled In a Bluebonnet Year
him to San Antonia at that time was a painting trip to the art colony
there with his New York friends, Charles Hawthorne and Wayman
Adams. He and his father had done numerous field studies the
previous spring to achieve skill in Texas wildflower landscapes, but
his father had become frustrated and given up. However, Adrian had
persisted, and his winning of the event brought him widespread
Adrian continued to paint floral landscapes for several years and sold a
number of them through a New York Gallery. He also painted 126 New
Mexico landscapes, often incorporating native-American figures into
In 1932, with the help of Powell Scott, he established the
Adrian Brewer School of Art in Little Rock, but in spite of being
academically successful, it had to close during the Depression.
World War II, he ran the art classes at the Little Rock U.S.O. and
after the war established a studio in Little Rock at 510 North Cedar
Street, which became a gathering place for artists, writers, and
musicians. Later he and his son, Adrian, organized the Arkansas Art
Adrian Brewer died of lung cancer in 1956 at age 65, and in 1961 a
memorial exhibition of his work was held at the Fine Arts Gallery at
the University of Arkansas.
William Reaves, Texas Art
Doris Dawdy, Artists of the American West
John and Deborah Powers, Texas Painters, Sculptors & Graphic Artists
* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see
Throughout his life Adrian Brewer was most influenced by his father who
introduced him to artists, musicians, and writers. He attended
St. Thomas College in Saint Paul. During this time he also studied at
the Art Students League in New York and the Art Institute of St.
Paul. He said later that he learned more from his father than in
any of his formal studies.
Brewer served as a pilot during World
War I. After the war, he and his father moved to Arkansas in 1912
where his work was exhibited in Hot Springs. He began focusing on
landscapes of the Southwest and rural scenes of Arkansas. Brewer lived
in Little Rock for thirty-three years and did many portraits of
prominent citizens. He also began to paint floral landscapes. These
works won him awards and recognition throughout the United States.
Notable collectors of his work include the Arkansas Arts Center and the Historic Arkansas Museum.