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 John Porter Leeper  (1909 - 1985)

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Lived/Active: California/Arizona/Tennessee      Known for: mod genre, non objective

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John Porter Leeper
An example of work by John Porter Leeper
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Dandridge, Tennessee, John Leeper was known in Arizona for his mural painting and in California for watercolor abstractions, city genre, and female figural works.

He was raised in Phoenix and studied art there for several years and then took further instruction at the Otis Art Institute. In the 1930s, he returned to Arizona and worked on murals for the Federal Relief Administration project until 1942. He taught art classes at The Phoenix Federal Art Center, a WPA project and forerunner of the Phoenix Art Museum.

His Phoenix murals were in the Tuberculosis Sanitarium in Papago Park and in some of them, he depicted nude figures, which artist David Swing later painted over because they were thought to be offensive to tubercular patients.

From 1942, Leeper resided in Southern California and there became a noted watercolorist of aspects of everyday life. Some paintings were of specific people, and others were more general views of city life. He painted both in his studio from on-site sketches and directly on location, en plein air.

From the late 1950s to the 1970s, he painted in abstract style, using opaque paints and depicting landscapes with no recognizable subjects. Later he produced a series of "highly colorful translucent paintings of women posed for life drawing classes" (McClelland & Last). He also worked as a sketch artist in the motion picture industry.

Peter Birmingham, The New Deal in the Southwest
Gordon McClelland and Jay Last, The California Style
A note from K. van Valkenburg, Eve Leeper's cousin:

John Leeper was divorced from Evanda Morell Leeper prior to 1960. She was head of costuming for different studios in Hollywood. She designed headdresses for the Ice Capades and some Las Vegas shows and did the costumes for a Sid and Marty Krofft tv show in the 70s called Sigmund the Sea Monster. She died in Pasadena Jun, 2005.

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Dandridge, TN on April 23, 1909. Leeper was raised in Phoenix and studied art there for several years. During the 1930s he further studied in Los Angeles at Otis Art Institute and then returned to Arizona where he lived and taught at the Phoenix Art Center until 1942. Returning to southern California, he worked as a sketch artist for movie studios. In 1951 he was director of the Pasadena Art Institute. During the 1930s to 1950s he painted American Scene subjects of life in American homes; after the 1950s he painted abstracts. Leeper died in Los Angeles on Nov. 7, 1985. Exh: LACMA, 1944, 1958; Calif. WC Society, 1944-55; Biltmore Salon (LA), 1949; Calif. State Fair, 1954 (prize); San Jose State College, 1957; Laguna Beach Art Festival, 1958, 1960. In: Arizona State College (mural); IBM; Long Beach Music College.
Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
Who's Who in American Art 1940-70.
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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