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 Clayton Henri Staples  (1892 - 1978)

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Lived/Active: Colorado/Kansas/Wisconsin      Known for: landscape, still life, and marine painting, teaching

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Ad Code: 4
Clayton Henri Staples
An example of work by Clayton Henri Staples
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following biography is from Denice Morris, Art Appriser of El Dorado, Kansas:

Born on a farm in Osceola, Wisconsin, Clayton Staples knew he wanted to be an artist even as a child. He went to Minneapolis, Minnesota to study art. When he was 19, he began working with the Chautauqua, traveling the country, speaking of his travels while drawing landscapes for his audiences.

After his work with the Chautauqua circuit, Staples went to Chicago to obtain a more formal art education in drawing and painting at the Art Institute of Chicago. He then moved to Illinois State University where he taught art.

Staples was soon offered a position at Wichita Municipal University in Kansas, now Wichita State University.  Staples accepted the job, but decided to travel the world before moving to Wichita.  During this time Staples expanded his exposure to art, visiting the great museums of Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East.

Upon returning from his travels, Staples went to work immediately, developing an art program at Wichita Municipal University.  During this period, he did a great deal to develop the art program at the university, from the development of the curriculum to the physical labor of remodeling the building space allotted the department for studios.  Because of the high quality of education Staples offered, the University was able to offer the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.

During his twenty years at the University, the art department thrived and grew under Staples' direction. The University hired more teachers and staff and added the first advanced art degree program to be offered in Kansas, the Master of Fine Arts. In addition to growing the art department at the university, Staples remained active in the community and also continued to develop his own art career.

He painted regularly and spent his summers in Gloucester, Massachusetts with some of the foremost artists of his time.  During these summer visits, he painted spectacular seascapes and harbor scenes, which earned him praise from critics, art lovers, and his fellow artists.

Staples retired and moved to Cuchara, Colorado where he continued to paint and also conducted a summer art school.  His favorite subjects were landscapes of the scenic area, many of which included his home and school.

It is apparent that Staples regarded Kansas as home and thought fondly of his years at Wichita Municipal University because he left many paintings as well as money to the University upon his death in 1978.  Staples will always be remember fondly by Kansans for all did for the university and the art community as a whole.

In appreciation for his years of service, the University has established a scholarship fund in his honor and has named a painting studio and gallery on campus after him.

Exhibition Record (Museums, Institutions and Awards):
Midwestern Artists’ Exhibition, 1931; Midwestern Artists’ Exhibition, 1932; Midwestern Artists’ Exhibition, 1932.
American Water Color Society; Salmagundi Club; Prairie Water Color Painters.

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Following is an excerpt from the Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph Newspaper article dated 9/24/68.

Clayton Staples, a native of Wisconsin, is a graduate of the Art Institute of Chicago and State Normal University, Normal, Illinois.  For four years he was director of the art Department at the University of Wichita, Kansas.

During World War I, he was station artist detailed to a camouflage division and later designed the silver service for the USS Wichita.

Staples has traveled and studied, as well as taught, abroad in England, France, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Northern Africa, and in Mexico and Canada.

Staples and his wife lived in Cuchara, Colorado for 11 years before moving to Colorado Springs in 1961, and remained in Colorado Springs until his death.

Submitted by:
Katherine Tozier

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born Osceola, WI, Feb. 4, 1892; died Colorado Springs, CO, 1978. Painter, specialized in seascapes and harbor scenes. Watercolor painter. Teacher. Studied at Art Institute of Chicago, the University of Illinois, and abroad. During World War I, he was an artist in a camouflage division. Hired by Wichita Municipal University (now Wichita State University) in 1930 to develop the art program, Staples remained at Wichita State until 205 1950. He spent his summers painting in Gloucester, MA. Upon retirement, Staples moved to Colorado where he continued to paint and conducted a summer art school. A painting studio, scholarship, and gallery at Wichita State are named for Staples. Many of his papers are available in the Wichita State University Library.
Ulrich Museum of Art

American Water Color Society; Salmagundi Club; Prairie Water Color Painters.

Susan Craig, "Biographical Dictionary of Kansas Artists (active before 1945)"
Who’s Who in American Art. New York: American Federation of Arts, 1936- v.1=1936-37 v.3= 1941-42 v.2=1938-39 v.4=1940-47. 1-4; Sain, Lydia. Kansas Artists, compiled by Lydia Sain from 1932 to 1948. Typed Manuscript, 1948.; Festival of Kansas Arts and Crafts. Catalog: Arts and Crafts of Kansas: an Exhibition held in Lawrence, Feb. 18-22, 1948 in the Community Building. Lawrence: World Co., 1948; Dawdy, Doris Ostrander. Artists of the American West: A Biographical Dictionary. Chicago: Swallow Press, 1974. Who’s Who in American Art. New York: American Federation of Arts, 1936- v.1=1936-37 v.3= 1941-42 v.2=1938-39 v.4=1940-47. 1, 6, 7; Midwestern Artists’ Exhibition (Kansas City: Kansas City Art Institute, 1920-1942 Mines, Cynthia. For the Sake of Art: The Story of an Art Movement in Kansas. s.l. Mines, 1979.) 1931-33; AskArt,, accessed Dec. 27, 2005
This and over 1,750 other biographies can be found in Biographical Dictionary of Kansas Artists (active before 1945) compiled by Susan V. Craig, Art & Architecture Librarian at University of Kansas.

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