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 Grace Gay Betts  (1883 - 1978)

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Lived/Active: California      Known for: landscape, Indian figure, genre and mural painting

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Ad Code: 3
Grace May Betts
from Auction House Records.
Indian Woman
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born and raised in New York City, Grace Betts became a peripatetic painter of Western and Southwest landscapes and Indians, and her subjects included Yosemite National Park and Arizona tribal members.  She was also a muralist who did backdrops for animal displays at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco and an illustrator for magazines and children's books.  The Art Institute of Chicago was a frequent exhibition venue from the time she was a student there beginning 1900, and her work was also exhibited at the Laguna Beach Museum of Art.

Betts was the daughter of artists Jane and Edwin Betts, and was taught to paint by her parents who called her Gay.  Her exposure to the West came from their travels together in the West from the early 1900s.

Her family was based in Chicago, and she graduated from the Chicago Art Institute in 1903.  Between 1904 and 1921, she led a "nomadic" existence and lived part of that time at the Theosophical Society and Universal Brotherhood headquarters at Point Loma, California.  During this period, she painted landscapes, and did batik work and illustrations for the Society's publications.  She also traveled to Cuba where she taught at the Society's Raja Yoga Academy and to Chicago where she illustrated children's books.

In the late 1920s, Betts returned to the West and took regular sketching trips to New Mexico and Arizona while living in California in a variety of locations.  In San Francisco, she had a studio on the roof of a San Francisco hotel, and she also lived in Laguna Beach (1936-1946) and Carlsbad (1948-1954).  From 1964 to 1978, she lived in Salome, Arizona, and Beaumont and Calimesa, California.

During the 1930s, she painted dioramas for the WPA (Works Progress Administration) in San Diego, and she and her sister, Vera, did backgrounds for the museum in Yosemite National Park and for the Simson African Hall of the California Academy of Science in San Francisco.

In 1929, the Santa Fe Railroad Company acquired two Arizona landscapes by Betts, and in 1954, the All Tribes Indian Center in Chicago acquired six of her large Indian studies, and several others were displayed as part of the Anselm Forum's Indian Collection in Gary, Indiana.

Phil Kovinick and Marian Yoshiki-Kovinick, Women Artists of the American West
Edan Hughes, Artists in California, 1786-1940

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Grace Betts is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
Taos Pre 1940

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