Southern Methodist University

Everett Spruce art work and papers

A Guide to the Collection



Overview

Creator: Spruce, Everett, 1908-2002
Title: Everett Spruce art work and papers
Inclusive Dates: 1931-1999
Abstract: Everett Franklin Spruce, a native of Arkansas, is known for his scenes of the Big Bend Hill Country, Gulf Coast, and West Texas. He is considered to be a Texas regionalist artist and one of several artists working in this style in Dallas during the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s. The collection includes artwork, clippings, correspondence, documents, photographs, published works, and publicity relating to his art and teaching careers at the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts and the University of Texas at Austin.
Extent: 6 archival boxes, 2 flat archival boxes, 45 matted works of art on paper
Language: Material is in English
Repository Jerry Bywaters Special Collections, Hamon Arts Library, Southern Methodist University

Biographical Note

Everett Franklin Spruce was born on December 25, 1907 (some sources list 1908) in Holland, Arkansas, the oldest of six children, to William Everett Spruce and his wife, Fanny May. In 1911 his father moved the family to Adams Mountain in Pope County and later to Mulberry where Spruce graduated high school in 1925. During these early years Spruce was influenced by both the rugged countryside in the foothills of the Ozarks and his father’s occupation of farming. This rural setting provided the young Spruce with ideas for sketching which caught the attention of family members. Word of his artistic talent reached Kathryn and Olin Travis who established a summer painting school in the Ozark Mountains in 1926. Impressed with Spruce’s work, Olin Travis offered him a scholarship at his newly formed Dallas Art Institute (DAI). Spruce moved to Dallas and studied at the DAI from 1926 – 1929 with Travis and another Texas artist, Thomas M. Stell, Jr. Spruce met another art student at the DAI, Alice Virginia Kramer, whom he later married in 1934, and together they exhibited their work in Dallas and participated in the Travis Ozark Summer Art School.

The 1930s proved to be a productive period for Spruce. In 1931 he took a position as gallery assistant at the Free Public Art Gallery, later (1933) renamed the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, and was promoted to registrar when the museum opened its doors at its new location in Fair Park in 1936 in time for the Texas Centennial celebration. In 1932 Spruce exhibited with eight other Texas artists at the Dallas Public Art Gallery in the Exhibition of Young Dallas Painters (All young men under thirty years of age). A half-century later, scholars and art collectors began to employ this exhibition’s title as a general term to identify these and other Dallas artists of that period having a regionalist aesthetic as "The Dallas Nine." Always inspired by his early influence of the Ozark Mountains and the austerity of Texas landscapes, Spruce continued to use everyday scenes in his work that soon began to gain national attention during the 1930s with the inclusion of his paintings in exhibitions across the nation including the Kansas City Art Institute (Kansas City, Missouri), the Rockefeller Center (New York, New York), the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York, New York), the Palace of Fine Arts (San Francisco, California), and the New York World’s Fair Exhibition (New York, New York).

In 1940 Spruce joined the art faculty at the University of Texas at Austin where he began as an instructor in life drawing and creative design. From 1949 – 1951 Spruce served as Chairman of the Department of Art and in 1954 he became Professor of Art. In 1958 Spruce was the first artist featured in the Blaffer Series on Texas Art, published by the University of Texas Press. The portfolio, entitled A Portfolio of Eight Paintings, includes "Everett Spruce: an Appreciation" by Jerry Bywaters, then director of the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts. In 1974 Spruce retired from the art department as professor emeritus yet continued to paint until he was 88 years old. Spruce died in Austin in 2002 at the age of 94, survived by his twin daughters and two sons. Spruce’s legacy continues today through the countless number of students he influenced during his tenure at the University of Texas at Austin. In addition, his work is now part of permanent collections at the Dallas Museum of Art, the Blanton Museum of Art (University of Texas at Austin), the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), the Museum of Modern Art (New York), and the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York).

Sources:

Aikman, W. Russ. "Everett Franklin Spruce (1907 – 2008)." The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture. http://www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net/encyclopedia/entry-detail.aspx?entryID=3341 (accessed March 25, 2009).

Carraro, Betty Francine. Painters of the Southwest Landscape: Otis Dozier, William Lester, Everett Spruce. MFA Thesis, Southern Methodist University, 1976.


Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Spruce collection consists of forty-five matted works of art on paper, nine sketchbooks, fifty-three loose sketches, and archival materials that include clippings, correspondence, documents, photographs, publicity, and exhibition catalogs. The correspondence files contain letters exchanged by Spruce and his art dealer, Verna Wear, of the Mortimer Levitt Gallery in New York during the 1940s and 1950s. The matted works of art on paper consist of two lithographs, two charcoal drawings, eleven watercolors, and twenty-nine ink drawings.


 

Arrangement of the Collection

The collection is organized alphabetically into 8 series:
Series 1: Artwork
Series 2: Clippings
Series 3: Correspondence
Series 4: Documents
Series 5: Ephemera
Series 6: Photographs
Series 7: Publicity
Series 8: Published Works

Restrictions

Access to Collection:

Collection is open for research use. Appointment with curatorial staff at Hamon Library is required.

Publication Rights:

Permission to publish materials must be obtained from the staff of Jerry Bywaters Special Collection.

Copyright Statement:

It is the responsibility of the user to obtain copyright authorization.


Access Terms

This collection is indexed under the following terms in the Southern Methodist University Libraries' online catalog. Researchers desiring related materials may search the catalog using these terms.
Spruce, Everett, 1908-
Artists -- Texas -- Dallas.
Art, American -- Southwest, New -- 20th century.

Related Material

This is one of the visual art collections in Bywaters Special Collections that concentrates on the art of Texas and the Southwest. Related materials are located in the Bywaters Special Collections of the Hamon Arts Library of Southern Methodist University.


Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Everett Spruce art work and papers, Jerry Bywaters Special Collections, Hamon Arts Library, Southern Methodist University.

Acquisition Information

Gift, Mrs. Alice Spruce Meriwether, 2000.

Custodial History

The Everett F. Spruce Collection was donated to Bywaters Special Collections in 2000 by his daughter, Mrs. Alice Spruce Meriwether.

Processing Information

The Spruce papers were received in large brown envelopes with the contents grouped together by years. During processing the contents were divided into separate archival files for clippings, correspondence, documents, ephemera, publicity, and published works. The photographs were housed separately in an archival box. The large works of art on paper were conserved by a paper conservator, matted in archival mats, and housed in museum cases. The sketchbooks and loose sketches were placed in large flat archival boxes for storage.

Conservation by Carrabba Conservation, Inc., Austin, Texas, 2002.

Works on paper matted by Ellen Buie Niewyk, 2007 and 2008.

Processed by

Ellen Buie Niewyk, 2008.

Finding aid written by

Ellen Buie Niewyk and Sam Ratcliffe, 2009.

Encoded by

Lara Corazalla, 2009.


Detailed Description of the Collection

 

Series 1:
Artwork

The artwork consists of forty-five matted works of art on paper including two charcoal drawings, twenty-nine ink sketches, two lithograph prints, and eleven watercolors. The nine sketchbooks contain working sketches of everyday scenes in pencil and in black and blue ink; some of the sketches are complete whereas others are simple line-drawings. Many of the drawings are loose in the sketchbooks. The fifty-three loose sketches are drawn in pencil; ten of the sketches are drawn on pink paper and measure only 3 3/8" high by 2" wide.
FlatBox
1 Untitled, sketchbook (front and back covers missing), pencil, blue and black ink on paper
Untitled, 10 small loose pencil sketches on pink paper
Untitled, sketchbook ("Cameo" brand sketchbook), black ink study sketches on paper
Untitled, sketchbook ("Shaw’s" brand sketchbook), black ink and pencil sketches on paper
Untitled, sketchbook (black hard-bound sketchbook), black ink and pencil on paper
FlatBox
2 Untitled, sketchbook ("Ennis" brand sketchbook), pencil sketches on paper
Untitled, pencil sketch on paper of mountain scenes
Untitled, sketchbook ("Make-a-Note" brand sketchbook), pencil sketches on paper
Untitled, forty-two loose individual sketches, pencil on paper
Untitled, sketchbook ("The Spiral Sketch Book" brand sketchbook")
Untitled, sketchbook ("Rembrandt Oil and Water Colors" brand sketchbook), pencil on paper
"E. Spruce Sketches 1931 – 32" sketchbook, pencil sketches on paper with one watercolor on inside back cover
Museum Cases: (the museum cases contain the forty-five matted works of art on paper; all measurements are listed as Height by Width)
(Size A museum case: matted size 20" x 16" or 16" x 20")
A-IX-7 Untitled Ink on paper, n.d. (9 ½" x 12")
A-IX-8 Untitled Ink on paper, n.d. (8 1/16" x 11 ¾")
A-IX-9 Untitled Ink on paper, n.d. (7 3/8" x 10")
A-IX-10 Untitled Ink on paper, n.d. (9" x 11 ¾")
A-IX-11 Untitled Ink on paper, n.d. (9" x 11 7/8")
A-IX-12 Untitled Ink on paper, n.d. (11 13/16" x 9")
A-IX-13 Untitled Ink on paper, n.d. (12 3/8" x 9 ½")
A-IX-14 Untitled Ink on paper, n.d. (10 7/8" x 13 15/16")
A-IX-15 Untitled Ink on paper, n.d. (10 7/8" x 13 15/16")
A-X-3 Untitled Ink on paper, n.d. (8 ½" x 11 5/8")
A-X-4 Untitled Ink on paper, n.d. (9" x 12")
A-X-5 Untitled Ink on paper, n.d. (9 1/16" x 12")
A-X-6 Untitled (sketch of a duck), Ink on paper, n.d. (9 7/16" x 11 7/8")
A-X-7 Untitled (sketch of a man), Ink on paper, n.d. (12 ½" x 9 3/8")
A-X-8 Untitled (sketch of a dove), Ink on paper, n.d. (9 ¾" x 12 5/8")
A-X-9 Untitled (snow scene), Lithograph, n.d. (10 ½" x 12 ¾")
A-X-14 Untitled Ink on paper, n.d. (12" x 14")
A-X-15 Untitled (hills, cactus, a few rocks in foreground), Ink on paper, n.d. (10 15/16" x 13 15/16")
A-XII-3 Untitled (quick study of blank billboard and tall grasses), Ink on paper, n.d. (10 ¼" x 13 5/8")
A-XII-4 Untitled (hawk study), Lithograph, n.d. (11 3/16" x 17 3/8")
(Size C museum case: matted size 24" x 20" or 20" x 24")
C-II-6 Untitled Ink on paper, n.d. (13 13/16" x 16 5/8")
C-II-7 Untitled Ink on paper, n.d. (13 13/16" x 16 7/8")
C-II-8 Untitled (a study of fence, gate, trees, prairie grasses), Ink on paper, n.d. (12 ½" x 19 1/16")
C-II-9 Untitled (a study of bushes), Ink on paper, n.d. (11 ¼" x 17 ¾")
C-II-10 Untitled (drawing with wash – pink in blue sky; browns and oranges on land), Watercolor on paper, n.d. (11 5/8" x 18 ¾")
C-II-11 Untitled (three women in shorts and t-shirts with a boat), Ink on paper, n.d. (16 7/8" x 13 13/16")
C-II-12 Untitled (quick sketch – woman near boat), Ink on paper, n.d. (16 7/8" x 13 13/16")
(Size D museum case: matted size 30" x 24" or 24" x 30")
D-I-8 Untitled (image of a monk), Watercolor on paper, n.d. (18 7/8" x 23 7/8")
D-II-3 Untitled (thick-trunked tree with hollow area), Ink on paper, n.d. (25" x 19")
D-II-4 Untitled (small tree and meadow washed in browns, sky washed in blue), Watercolor on paper, n.d. (18 7/8" 23 3/8")
D-II-5 Untitled (moon and meadow – blue and orange wash), Watercolor on paper, n.d. (18 7/8" x 23 7/8")
D-II-6 Untitled (individual dragging a cotton sack), Watercolor on paper, n.d. (23 7/8" x 18 7/8")
D-II-7 Untitled (individual in a dark shadow in front of a fence), Watercolor on paper, n.d. (23 7/8" x 18 ¾")
D-II-8 Untitled (two Spanish dagger plants), Charcoal on paper, n.d. (23 7/8" x 18 7/8")
D-II-9 Untitled (a tree with tangles and shadows), Ink on paper, n.d. (18 7/8" x 23 7/8")
D-II-10 Untitled (nude), Charcoal on paper, n.d. (23 7/8" x 18 7/8")
D-II-11 Untitled (Branches and moon with faint road and grey brush), Watercolor on paper, n.d. (18 7/8" 23 7/8")
D-II-12 Untitled (Field; sky with sun), Watercolor on paper, n.d. (23 7/8" x 18 7/8")
D-II-13 Untitled (nude), Ink on paper, n.d. (18 7/8" 23 7/8")
D-II-14 Untitled (owl study), Ink on paper, n.d. (17 ¾" x 23 7/8")
D-III-1 Untitled (field sky with sun), Watercolor on paper, n.d. (18 7/8" x 23 7/8")
D-III-2 Untitled (standing nude), Ink on paper, n.d. (23 7/8" x 18 7/8")
D-III-3 Untitled (rocks and brush), Watercolor on paper, n.d. (18 7/8" x 23 3/8")
D-III-4 Untitled (prickly shrub), Watercolor on paper, n.d. (18 7/8" x 23 7/8")



 

Series 2:
Clippings

This series contains thirty-eight folders from various newspapers documenting Spruce’s life from the early development of his art career through his teaching career at the University of Texas at Austin.
Box Folder
1 1 undated
2 1933
3 1934
4 1935
5 1936
6 1937
7 1938
8 1939
9 1940
10 1941
11 1942
12 1943
13 1944
14 1945
15 1946
16 1947
17 1948
18 1949
19 1950
20 1951
21 1953
22 1954
23 1955
24 1956
25 1957
26 1958
27 1962
28 1963
29 1964
30 1967
31 1968
32 1971
33 1974
34 1979
35 1985
36 1991
37 1992
38 1995



 

Series 3:
Correspondence

The two correspondence boxes contain forty-seven files that concentrate on Everett Spruce’s early art and his teaching career at the University of Texas at Austin.
Box Folder
2 1 undated
2 1935
3 1936
4 1937
5 1938
6 1939
7 1940
8 1941
9 1942
10 1943
11 1944
12 1945
13 1946
14 1947
15 1948
16 1949
17 1950
18 1951
Box Folder
3 1 1952
2 1953
3 1954
4 1955
5 1956
6 1957
7 1958
8 1959
9 1960
10 1961
11 1962
12 1963
13 1964
14 1965
15 1966
16 1967
17 1968
18 1970
19 1976
20 1978
21 1979
22 1980
23 1981
24 1982
25 1983
26 1984
27 1985
28 1990
29 1992



 

Series 4:
Documents

One item is housed in a flat archival storage box and the remaining documents are housed in one documents box containing thirty-one files. The documents contain business information regarding Spruce’s museum and gallery loan agreements, general paperwork, business information while teaching at the University of Texas at Austin, and lists of his art work.
FlatBox
2 1945 – 1946
Scribbletex notepad with list of painting and several small sketches, draft letters to Verna Wear [Spruce’s art dealer in New York] and Blanche Bonestell [Bonestell Gallery, New York]
Box Folder
4 1 undated
2 1934, 1935, 1936
3 1940
4 1941
5 1943
6 1945
7 1946
8 1950
9 1951
10 1952
11 1955
12 1957
13 1958
14 1959
15 1959
16 1959
17 1959
18 1960
19 1961
20 1962
21 1963
22 1964
23 1965
24 1966
25 1967
26 1968
27 1970
28 1972
29 1973
30 1983
31 1986



 

Series 5:
Ephemera

The six ephemera files contain misc. handwritten notes, shipping labels, and handwritten addresses.
Box Folder
4 1 undated
2 1937
3 1946
4 1955
5 1958
6 1970



 

Series 6:
Photographs

These eleven photographs files contain images of Spruce, his work, landscapes, one file identified as "Spruce’s 1st trip to the Big Bend…he was inspired!", and one file containing photographic negatives of Spruce’s work.
PSBox Folder
1 1 Everett Spruce
2 undated
3 "Spruce’s 1st trip to the Big Bend…he was inspired!" – no dates
4 1935
5 1940
6 1945
7 1946
8 1947
9 1948
10 1949
11 Negatives – undated



 

Series 7:
Publicity

The twenty-five publicity files contain invitations, announcements, and brochures from Spruce exhibitions in Texas and New York. Art newsletters and press releases relating to Spruce’s art career are also included.
Box Folder
5 1 undated
2 1936
3 1937
4 1938
5 1939
6 1942
7 1943
8 1945
9 1946
10 1948
11 1951
12 1952
13 1953
14 1958
15 1959
16 1960
17 1963
18 1964
19 1967
20 1979
21 1980
22 1993
23 1994
24 1997
25 1999



 

Series 8:
Published Works

The eighteen files contain museum catalogues, bulletins, and magazines relating to the artist’s career.
Box Folder
5 1 1941
2 1942
3 1943
4 1945
5 1946
6 1947
7 1948
8 1949
9 1950
10 1952
11 1954
12 1955
13 1956
14 1958
15 1959
16 1964
17 1979
18 1993