|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
|The following biography is submitted by Beverly B. Ross, the
great-niece of Tignal Franklin Cox, called Frank. Information on
this artist comes from newspaper articles (New Orleans), the memoirs of
his brother, Clark Alonzo Cox, and the memoirs of his sister, LuDelle
Tignal Franklin Cox
began his artistic career at the age of 15 years as a sign painter in
Buffalo, Missouri. As he became more and more successful, he
moved from town to town, covering several states around Missouri.
Eventually he began to give shows in towns along the way, calling them
"Chalk Talks," in which he drew caricatures of famous people.
Finally he began to add oil paintings to his shows, sometimes painting
up to 50 pictures in one evening. Thus, he billed himself as "The
The oil paintings grew, both in size and
scope, and his billing changed to "The Tramp Painter." He often
made oils of local scenes during his lectures. Sometimes he would
pretend he was dissatisfied with the way a picture was turning
out--green skies, blue grass, red splotches and gray spots.
Suddenly he would turn the canvas upside down, and the audience would
see and entirely different picture, with blue skies and green
grass. One of these was a picture of The Garden of the Gods with
the red rocks. The gray spot turned out to be Pike's Peak in the
distance. One of his popular paintings was a 4-foot by 6-foot
painting of the entrance to The Garden of the Gods. He later
opened a scene painting business, furnishing all the stage scenery and
advertising drop curtains for theaters.
In 1889 he moved to New
Orleans, where he worked as a scenic artist in the Old French Opera
House. He established a reputation, and then was joined by his
younger brothers, Clark and Eugene, both fine artists, though Eugene
was only 15 years old and still learning his craft. They opened a
studio called The Grand Southern Scenic Studios. From 1890 to
1900 they designed and staged the Comus Parades (later called the Mardi
Gras) and Grand Carnival Balls. Frank also superintended the
building of the Grand Peace Parade in Washington at the end of the
Frank's next venture came when he opened
his own architectural and theatrical building office. During the
next several years he became the architect of the Galveston Opera
House, theaters in Sherman, San Antonio, and Waco, Texas, Nashville and
Knoxville, Tennessee, and a theater in Atlanta, Georgia. He also
remodeled the Sweeney and Coombs Theater in Houston, Texas, as well as
others across the south, among which was the old Savannah Theater,
originally built in 1812.
Frank moved to Chicago and opened Cox
Brothers Studio for a time when Clark and Eugene joined him. He
later moved to Arizona and then to Los Angeles where he settled for the
rest of his life. His death came in 1940, at age 86.
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