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 Oscar Conley Pickett  (1886 - 1957)

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Lived/Active: Indiana      Known for: portrait, landscape, sign painting

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Ad Code: 4
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from Auction House Records.
Autumn Landscape
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Oscar Conley Pickett was born May 11, 1886 in Osgood (Ripley Co.) Indiana, the son of James Franklin and Martha Ann (Fulmet) Pickett. O.C. had four brothers, Herbert, Elmer, Jake and Peter; and two sisters, Minnie Ann and Vina May.

He spent his early years in Ripley and Decauter Counties in Southern Indiana. His mother died in the early 1890's and the family possibly went West and spent a few years in Oklahoma or Kansas, around the turn of the century. O.C. was living with his father in Greensburg, Indiana when his father died in 1917.

As a young man in Greensburg, O.C. worked at several vocations; he was a janitor for a local lodge, an artist painting signs, portraits and landscapes, composer of music, played piano for local bands and for the silent film theatres, and even handcrafted violins. O.C. was crippled from an early age, an affliction which left him with a limp all his life.

"Sweetheart of the Films" was a song composed by O.C. in 1917. It was dedicated to the young actress Mary Miles Minter. In the nineteen teens she was second only in popularity to Mary Pickford, and O.C. corresponded with Miss Minter.

O.C. went to Shawnee, Oklahoma in late 1917 and married Alma Stewart. She had been a teacher on an Indian Reservation, but at the time of marriage was working for the Railroad. O.C. also worked with his wife at the same Railroad Company.

O.C. and Alma had four children; Louise born 1918, Connie born 1920, Harrold born 1922, and a son in 1925 who died along with his mother during childbirth. After his wife's death O.C. hired a housekeeper and tried to keep the family going, but in 1927 he sent his children to Alma's folks at Sand Springs, Oklahoma to live. While trying to keep the family together in Oklahoma he painted, played piano for several movie theatres and local bands.

From the late 1920's through the early 1940's O.C. spent considerable time in the Wichita, Kansas area. He painted signs, portraits and landscapes for a living. Many of his paintings were signed Oscar Conley during this period, and he dropped the Pickett name for some unknown reason.

He was reported as working in Muncie in the 1930's, and likely was there for short periods of time. O.C. is not listed in the Muncie City Directory until 1943 and continuously on until his death on June 19, 1957. He was last living at 623 South Mulberry Street where he died. This cement block building still stands by the big four railroad tracks.

Submitted May 2005 by Ed Bentley, art collector and researcher from Lansing, Michigan.

Writing by William Barnett, Ball State University Library
Hope Barnes, "The Muncie Star", May 4, 1986, based on information from William Barnett who exhibited work by the artist at the University and wrote a short biography.

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