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 John Henry Page, Jr.  (1923 - )

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Lived/Active: Iowa/Minnesota/Michigan      Known for: Printmaking, painting, teaching

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Ad Code: 3
John Henry Page, Jr.
View of Omaha (1961). Triptych, side panels 18 x 12 in, center panel 18 x 13 in, intaglio.
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following information, submitted February 2013, is from the artist.

I began at the Minneapolis School of Art  in the Fall of 1940, (now named School of the Minneapolis Art Institute). I had received a Scholastic Magazine scholarship and after the first year I was a Pillsbury Scholar until I left that school. My favorite teacher was Frances Cranmer Greenman who taught oil painting. All our subjects were still-lifes that she set up. Early in her training she had studied with Robert Henri and had painted portraits of movie stars. Her autobiography, Higher Than the Sky, published in 1954 mentions me and my room mate Orval Dillingham. Other teachers were important too, such as Gustav Krollman, a sculptor, in drawing class where we were taught in the European academic tradition he knew, by drawing plaster casts. The most interesting of them, The Goose Girl, a Roman sculpture, we drew using hard vine charcoal and taking many hours being very careful to get the contours, modeling and negative shapes right.

The connection to the Art Institute was often used by all of us students as there was a tunnel between the buildings. The painting collection at the Minneapolis Museum of Art became familiar to me and greatly added to my learning experience. The Cezanne and Gauguin paintings, both fine examples, that hung side by side I remember well.

The sketchbook habit was very strong now and I carried a sketchbook with me everywhere. One Saturday Orv and I walked downtown to the scruffy district near the river and went into a bar, ordered a beer and began to sketch, which caught the attention of several unshaven drinkers who noticed us and got very interested when we gave them the drawings we made. The bartender kept our glass filled for free. made.

To get a little change from spending all day on art, Orv and I recruited a few other students to form a basketball team in YMCA. playing once a week. Of course we had to eat, and for that there was Mrs. Strot’s boarding house for evening meals and Daisey’s Cafe for noon lunches. both were very adequate. Our room was just across the street from the school.

During my second year, in the Fall of 1942, it was evident that the draft would soon get me and  home  I went to New York city and enrolled in the Art Students’ League for a 3 month stay taking painting class from Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Alexander Brooke, and Morris Kantor. All classes met 5 days a week and were structured the same, about 30 students with canvas and easel in a ring around a nude model.  The teachers were not much involved ,and much of the time the class went on without any teacher.

I was a monitor for the Brooks class and called the breaks and marked the pose (on the floor). These teachers had their studios elsewhere, but did, on one or two days come to the class come to critique the work we were  doing. (Yashio often painted on our canvas). I should not be putting Morris Kantor in with the other two, for he was a diligent teacher who took a lot of his time to really teach. I did a nice little pallet knife painting of a seated nude in his class, which was the only painting that I saved from my League work. My daughter has it now. The league has a long tradition, but all I can say for it was that it was inexpensive and not the best way for a young artist to learn. What I gained most from this first visit to the big city was from the walks I took along gallery row and the museums, especially the Metropolitan and Modern.

By the end of the year my draft status was such that I had to go home to Muskegon, near the Christmas holidays of 1942.

I was drafted March 6th, 1943 and sent to FT. Belvoir, Va. for three months of training as an army engineer. It was difficult physically but I was in good shape. I carried a sketchbook on all training stowed behind my back and knapsack and still have it.

When done, all 180 of us took a  five-day train ride in June to Prince Rupert, B. C. (never knowing where we would end up). The Canadians had been in the war for 2 years and all able bodied men had gone to Europe and we were to be stevedores in the Transportation Corps. I was one of four men to be moved from private to corporal and to be in charge of a crew of six men. The port facilities were minimal for unloading ships as each ship had to have only winches to swing from the boxcars and the crews worked from the docks and also from the hatches to move whatever was loaded aboard from the middle of the hatch to the sides. The Canadian National Rail Line, which we had arrived on, ended at our dock and now the war efftort was turned to Japan, we were to handle all materials going to Alaska.  All the sidings along the line we had come on were full of loaded boxcars and our company, the 655th Port Company went on an 11 hour work schedule 24 hours a day to clear the backlog.

I will shorten this account now to say that the work was very hard and the weather often wet and cold, but after beginning in tents, after the move into barracks and going to 8 hour days it wasn’t so bad.

As for my art activity, there was some squeezed in, I drew the portraits of all my barrack mates to tape on their double bunks. In our day room I painted nostalgic murals, I was called on to decorate our mess hall for special holidays, even to decorate the cake. The biggest thing, however, was I painted a mural on canvas in oil showing men loading ammunition in the waiting room of the Port Administration Building, and I had gotten in trouble with my company Captain because I had gone directly to the top officer, Col. Mellom, proposing the idea. It was in two parts meeting in a corner of the big room, both 6’ high. on 16’ long the other 12’. The painting showed men loading ammunition on the hold of a ship, and included portraits of our own men. They are losding 2000 pound bombs and incendiary bombs and 16mm shells, al of which I sketched with the work going on. I had received all that I needed and worked in an empty barracks to do this in just a couple of months and when finished my guys insisted that it would be carried through the main street of town to install.

I had my first furlough after one year and a second after another. On this second one I married my wife whom I had known from high school days. By this time the war was winding down in Europe, and when I again went back we could hope that the war would soon be over. It ended in a different way than I could have predicted. A converted liberty ship docked at our wharf needing six men for ships’ complement and I was one to get the call. It was to be special service non-com with rank now of sergeant. Two of the others were lieutenants and the other non-coms were mess hall workers. I packed my duffel bag and got on board and by morning was on the open sea on the way to Adak, Alaska and beyond on the Bering Sea to almost the Arctic Circle. The war was over and all of our men stationed in Alaska were in need of our ship or they would stay until the Spring. Our ship held 1600 men in the hold bunked in stacks about 8 high. My role included showing movies, which had to be projected through those bunks filled with bodies and it was surprising how it didn’t seem to take too much of the image away. The movies were awful to begin. Teller was the first place to load troops and at Adak on the way back those who had been on a Aeutian island had been moved to Adak to mak ou limit of 1600 men. From there it was 8 days and ended in Seattle and, by bus, Ft. Lewis, WA.

It had been a 6 week trip and Christmas not long in coming.

The trip by train was about 4 or 5 days and for me ended in Ann Arbor Mich where Mary Lou was a student and 1995 was ended.

Additional Information:
“American Watercolors Drawings and Prints,”
Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1952, a National Competitive Exhibition, Dec. 5, 1952-Jan. 25, 1953. I had one print, “Impressions Third Stage”, color etching in that show.

Library of Congress, the  Biennial of 1961or 62 awarded my triptych, View of Omaha the Joseph Pennell Purchase prize. I think I have two others in there too.

Phillip Evergood, who was a guest artist at the University of Northern Iowa for a summer session, produced a print called, Mom, I’m Engaged, an etching with aquatint.  I gave him the grounded plate and he drew the image, which I etched and printed. Both of us signed it. The WhitneyMuseum in NYC had one of the prints on display at he Whitney Museum in NYC where I last saw it. It is reproduced in a book on Evergood as well.

As for publications, I self-published a 74 page Art Biography, After Images” in 1991 that covers my 50 years of my art work through age 67.

And a catalog of John Page, A Retrospective Exhibition in in Three Parts,  Oct 2- Nov 2, 1992, at the University of Northern Iowa, the Hearst Center for the Arts, Cedar Falls, and the Waterloo Museum of Art, Waterloo, . Catalog 1992, University of Northern Iowa. Forwards by Thomas Thompson and Allan Shickman. There are six color plates plus thirteen black and white plus a checklist of the 270 works shown..


This biography from the Archives of AskART:
John H. Page, Jr. (1923-)

American printmaker and painter John Henry Page, Jr. was born January 18, 1923 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He grew up in the vicinity of Detroit, where his father was an architect. In 1936, his family moved to Muskegon, Michigan, where, while attending high school, he became interested in art. In 1940, he received a Pillsbury Scholarship to study at the Minneapolis School of Art* (now Minneapolis College of Art and Design). In 1942, he studied briefly at the Art Students League* in New York, then returned to art school in Minneapolis. He was drafted into the U.S. Army in March 1943 and served through 1945, during part of which he was stationed at Prince Rupert, British Columbia, Canada.

In 1945, he married Mary Lou Franks, whom he had known since high school. They moved to Ann Arbor in 1946, where two years later he received a Bachelor of Arts degree, with a major in architecture and design. In 1948 to 1950, he attended graduate school with a major in printmaking and a minor in drawing at the University of Iowa, where he earned an MFA.

Beginning in 1954, he taught (briefly) at New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas, New Mexico, and then, for nearly four years, at Mankato State College (now Minnesota State University at Mankato).

In 1954, he accepted a teaching position at Iowa State Teachers College (now University of Northern Iowa), in Cedar Falls, where he headed the printmaking program for thirty-three years. For a brief period (1960-61), he was also the Department Head at the University of Omaha (now University of Nebraska at Omaha). While at UNI, he was especially instrumental in the development of the school’s Permanent Collection of Art and Art and Architecture on Campus programs. In 1983-84, he served as the Acting Head of the UNI Department of Art. He retired from teaching in 1988, and he and his wife resettled in Arizona.

Throughout his life, Page has traveled extensively. In 1967, he traveled throughout Europe, then returned to study at the Pratt Graphic Arts Center in New York. In 1972, having been awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts*, he lived and studied in London. After retirement, he traveled in France, England, Greece, Australia, New Zealand and other locations.

In 1992, three Iowa art museums, the UNI Gallery of Art, James and Meryl Hearst Center for the Arts (Cedar Falls), and the Waterloo Museum of Art (Waterloo), mounted a three-part retrospective exhibition of Page’s artworks. It was accompanied by a full-color exhibition catalog, titled John Page: A Retrospective Exhibition in Three Parts (University of Northern Iowa, 1992). He also wrote a memoir titled After Images: An Art Biography (self-published, 1991).

Augustana College
Carnegie Institute
Concordia Teachers College
Des Moines Art Center
Drake University
Eastern Illinois University
Graceland College
Hackley Museum of Art
Hastings College
Hearst Center for the Arts
Illinois Wesleyan University
Joslyn Museum of Art
Laura Musser Museum
Library of Congress
Luther College
MacNider Museum of Art
Nelson Swope Art Gallery
St Olaf College
Seattle Art Museum
Sioux City Art Center
Tulsa City-County Library
University of Minnesota
University of Northern Iowa
University of Southern Idaho
Walker Art Center
Waterloo Center for the Arts

Submitted by Roy R. Behrens, Professor of Art and Distinguished Scholar, University of Northern Iowa.

* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see Glossary

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at
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