Streeter Blair

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About this artist

Streeter Blair was "the West Coast Grandma Moses." He came late to art, after a varied and highly successful career as a teacher, an editor, in advertising, as a clothier, and an antique dealer. His frequent travels throughout the United States during his years in advertising acquainted him with early Americana and different areas of the country, knowledge which would later be utilized for the settings of some of his paintings. In late 1929 he moved to Los Angeles but during the following two decades he lived in several different areas of Southern California. About 1948 he turned to painting, at first as a hobby until he realized that customers in his antique shop wanted to buy his pictures. He began by depicting life in the Midwestern farming town where he grew up, hoping to record how things were before the era of the automobile. He later expanded his repertoire to include historical subjects, landscapes, and, in the 1960s, still lifes. Although his paintings reflected the revival of interest in Americana and naïve art during the 1940s and 1950s, his work was highly regarded among Southern California modernists. His charmingly nostalgic images reveal Blair’s innate color sense and extraordinary talent for design. He was given his first solo exhibition in 1951 at the Carlbach Gallery in New York and thereafter had several exhibitions on both coasts. Vincent Price bought out his entire 1964 exhibition at the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles, which was then circulated under the auspices of Sears Roebuck and Co.

"Streeter Blair," Look 18 (May 18, 1954): 126-27, 129 § University of California, Los Angeles, Oral History Program, "Primitive Painter of the West," interview with Streeter Blair by Elizabeth I. Dixon and Donald J. Schippers, 1965, with incomplete list of paintings § Who’s Who in American Art, 1966, s.v. "Blair, Streeter" § "Painting: Late Starter," Time 93 (March 21, 1969): 80-83 § Beverly Hills, Calif., Sári Heller Gallery, Streeter Blair’s America, 1886-1966: A Retrospective Exhibition, exh. cat., 1970, with essay by Frank R. Heller, list of museum collections, bibliography.