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 Clay Kelly  (1874 - 1942)

About: Clay Kelly
 

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Lived/Active: California/Indiana      Known for: land-and cityscape painting

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:

A  note about the death date of this artist as researched by Jennifer L. Hehmann, Reference Librarian, University Library-IUPUI:

Clay Kelly-aka. Clayton Mitchell Kelly apparently left his wife in San Francisco in 1937 and escaped  from her to Indiana – his home state- where he painted for several years- alive and well- exhibiting at the Hoosier Salons  in 1937, 1938 ( winning a prize)  and later returning to southern California to paint movie sets in Hollywood, living with his sister  until his death  in 1942.   His obituary is in the historic Los Angeles Times and the death records for California have his death date as in January 31, 1942 in Los Angeles.  He is buried in Los Angeles, California,  next to his sister.  

Meanwhile his  wife in San Francisco had a reporter from the Art Digest write an item for the journal saying that he was “lost” in a  southern Indiana artist colony -asking for someone to locate him for her.   His wife in San Francisco later claimed he had been lost in Indiana and she  never  heard from him  after  1937.  She never had any proof that he died in 1937.  He had to be alive to get a prize at the Hoosier Salon in 1938 in Chicago.  The Hoosier Salon does/did not give prizes to deceased painters, an artist received the prizes at the exhibit opening  and all entries have to be created in the previous year.  The Art Digest article never had any follow-up whether he had been located – only the one item  that his wife was wanting someone to look for him in Indiana.  He must not have wanted her to find him!  

This all occurred during the Depression when men out of work were traveling across the country looking for jobs.   Clay Kelly definitely made artwork from 1937-1942  which can turn up nowadays.

Sources include:
California Death Register
Los Angeles Times Obituary, February 1942
Grand Tradition: the Hoosier Salon, 1890-1990
, by Judith V. Newton and Carol Weiss


This biography from the Archives of AskART:

Born in Jeffersonville, Indiana, he entered De Pauw University after attending schools in Kentucky.  From there he went to New York and completed his course at the National Academy of Design.  With this preparation, he went to Europe to study, and traveled extensively in Europe and North Africa.  He supplemented this with travel in America and finally settled in California where he spent five years painting.  Eventually, he returned to Chicago and began the establishment of the South Shore Art School, a well-known institution by 1933.  His last trip was to Mexico (pre-1933) where he spent his time painting. 

Since settling in Chicago, Mr. Kelly had three one-man shows.  At the Allerton House he exhibited his California landscapes, in March of 1927; at Revell’s Gallery, he exhibited under the auspices of the All-Illinois Society of the Fine Arts, a collection of New Orleans paintings, during the month of January, 1931; at Marshall Field & Co., he exhibited paintings of Mexico in October of 1932.  Kelly exhibited regularly at the Art Institute and annually at the Hoosier Salon and the All-Illinois Society of Fine Arts.

Sources include
Catalog: Century of Progress exhibition by artists of Illinois. 1933  Additional information from the Illinois Historical Art Project.

Submitted by Edward P. Bentley, researcher in Lansing, Michigan.


This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Jeffersonville, Indiana on June 11, 1874.  Kelly studied at the NAD and then settled in Chicago where he was founder and director of the Southshore Art Club.  During the 1930s he was a scene painter in theaters from coast to coast and had a studio in San Francisco for five years. 

Leading a peripatetic life, he disappeared in 1937.

Exh:
AIC, 1927, 1933, 1935, 1937; Palette & Chisel (Chicago), 1930; Hoosier Salon, 1938 (prize).
Source:
Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
Art Digest, July 1939; Chicago Daily News, 6-10-1939.
Nearly 20,000 biographies can be found in Artists in California 1786-1940 by Edan Hughes and is available for sale ($150). For a full book description and order information please click here.

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