|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
|Jay Meuser (September 28, 1911 — August 19, 1963) |
He was an American abstract expressionist painter. Meuser's style was versatile and his works prolific, in his lifetime he worked as an illustrator, portrait painter and cartoonist for several newspaper editorial pages.
He married Dorothy Ellen Morris in 1938. Their only child, Jacqueline Ellen Meuser, married Suren Saroyan, MD, cousin of the famous American Playwright William Saroyan.
"I've led a most full life," he said to his wife just before his death. Besides teaching at the Art School of San Francisco, he had been a baseball pitcher, a vaudeville performer, a sailor working around the world twice, and "was more than a fair boxer." He had worn 14 different law enforcement badges. At 31, he was the youngest chief of police in Marin County, California. As a member of the Sheet Metal Workers International, he worked at the Terminal Island Naval Shipyard. There he was awarded a "Certificate of Award" for a suggestion that was adopted concerning the building of Navy ships. He also wrote a column in the union's newspaper.
The artist painted many of the 20th century prominent personalities, including Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Harry S. Truman, Richard M. Nixon and John F. Kennedy. His portrait of Roosevelt hung in the White House and he received a personal letter of thanks from the late president. While at the shipyard, he was commissioned to paint the portraits of Rear Admiral and Mrs. Paul Hendren, USN and Rear Admiral T. P. Wynkoop USN. He drew two sketches of General Douglas MacArthur in 1950; each accompanying editorials in the Long Beach Press Telegram. The latter sketch prompted an oil painting commissioned by a prominent businessman in the San Francisco Bay Area. Shortly after his death, the original sketch of General MacArthur was donated to Fort MacArthur, San Pedro CA by his wife in 1964. In addition to his oil, water and casein paint colors, he also did many editorial cartoon sketches for newspapers.
By 1949, Meuser had devoted his life to painting full time. Around 1950 he became interested in abstraction. Previously, his subjects were depicted in realistic terms. He wrote about his painting Mare Nostrum, "It is far better to capture the glorious spirit of the sea than to paint all of its tiny ripples." The vast majority of his artwork was painted between 1949 and 1957. The variety and quality of his work, as well as the quantity, during this period was significant.
As President of the San Pedro Art Association in 1953, he oversaw three galleries and designed, renovated and constructed plans for the group's first permanent gallery. In 1955 he was elected a member of the nationwide California Water Color Society (currently National Watercolor Society), where he was close friends with past presidents Arnold Franz Brasz and Leonard Edmondson. He participated and won awards in scores of art exhibitions across the country. His award winning painting Occultation went on tour in the traveling section of the California Water Color Society's Annual Exhibition of 1962. His abstract work Northward was requested by the Long Beach Museum of Art in 1957 and remains in the museum's permanent collection as Abstract Expressionism.
San Pedro Art Patrons Purchase Award, 1953.
Top Recommendation for Purchase by Jury of Awards — Long Beach Museum of Art, 1957.
Abstract scene, c. 1955 Los Angeles County Museum, Los Angeles, California
California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco, California
Oakland Art Museum, Oakland, California
Virginia Museum of Fine Art, Richmond, Virginia
California State Fair, Sacramento, California
National Orange Show, San Bernardino, California
Pasadena Museum of Art, Pasadena, California
Denver Art Museum, Denver, Colorado
National Institute of Modern Art, Mexico City, Mexico
The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, Massachusetts
University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California
Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, California
DeCordova Museum of Art, Lincoln Massachusetts
Santa Monica Art Gallery, Santa Monica, California
Long Beach Museum of Art, Long Beach, California
Palos Verdes Library/Gallery, Palos Verdes Estates, California
Richmond Art Center, Richmond, California
Benjamin Franklin Library, Mexico City, Mexico
North American Cultural Institute, Mexico City, Mexico
Newport Harbor Annual, Newport Beach, California
San Francisco Museum of Art, San Francisco, California
Marymount College, Palos Verdes, California
Long Beach Museum of Art, Long Beach, California
Richard Dana Junior High School, San Pedro, California
Fort MacArthur, San Pedro, California
John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston, Massachusetts
Past President of the San Pedro Art Association (1953)
California Water Color Society
San Francisco Art Institute
Los Angeles Art Association
Artists Equity Association
1.a b c "MacArthur Art is Gift to Fort". San Pedro News Pilot, San Pedro, CA. Wed. Nov. 4, 1964 pg. 13.
2."Corte Madera Police Department". Police and Peace Officers' Journal: pg.36. June 1942.
3.a b "Corte Madera Police Department". Police and Peace Officers' Journal: pg. 36. June 1942.
4. "Department of the Navy". Long Beach Naval Shipyard. August 23, 1949.
5. "News of Navy Colony". Long Beach Press Telegram, Long Beach, CA. April 15, 1949.
6. "U.S. Is Obliged to Build Physical Might to Support Its Convictions". Long Beach Press Telegram, CA, Editorial Page. Friday, July 14, 1950.
7. "MacArthur- Man of the Hour". Long Beach Press Telegram, Long Beach, CA, Editorial Page. Sunday, November 26, 1950.
8. "Harbor Artist Executes Oil Portrait of M'Arthur". Long Beach Press Telegram, Long Beach, CA, Sunday. December 31, 1950.
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