Edward T. Grigware (1889-1960)

Edward T. Grigware (1889-1960)

Edward T. Grigware was raised in Spokane, Washington, and as a young man he joined two of his brothers playing baseball in the Spokane City League, the region’s first professional league. After three years, he moved to Chicago, Illinois, in 1911 and studied at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts (which later became the School of the Art Institute of Chicago), receiving their first scholarship. Grigware eschewed modernism, claiming that “those would-be artists who were short on talent were the ones who turned to modern art as an escape from discipline” and he found ready financial support through advertising and illustration work, saying “I've done advertising work and it has never hurt me a lick.” Due to his thriving commercial career, in 1937 Grigware was appointed as a Naval Painter and served as a Captain of the US Navy documenting life aboard ships in the Pacific and in Alaska throughout World War II. Many of his observations were reproduced in Life Magazine as a war-time correspondent. In the early 1940s, Grigware also completed poster designs sponsored by the Works Progress Administration to support the war effort.

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For many years Grigware maintained a studio and residence in Oak Park, Illinois, just west of downtown Chicago. He was an active member of the local arts community, holding a Charter Membership of the Oak Park Arts Association and a membership at the North Shore Arts League. He exhibited widely in Chicago and received many awards, such as the Charles Worcester prize from the Palette and Chisel Academy of Fine Arts, the Art Review Prize from the Art Institute of Chicago, and Gold Medals from both the Palette and Chisel Academy and the Association of Chicago Painters and Sculptors. 

In the late 1930s, Grigware and his wife moved to Cody, Wyoming, and built a log cabin that served as both studio and home on the rim of Shoshane Canyon. The Grigwares made this move after an invitation from Mary Jester Allen, the niece of William F. ‘Buffalo Bill’ Cody, who strove to establish Cody as a thriving artists’ colony. For Grigware, Cody seemed to provide a much-needed break from rigorous city-life: “I love this big country. I’ve gotten away from the ists and isms – the artificial. Here one can find peace of soul and you can think things out for yourself.”[2] He found a beauty in the Western landscape that would occupy his interest for much of the rest of his life, remarking “I’ve painted all through the East, in Canada and Florida. I’ve painted all over. . . But here you find a beauty of a majestic nature. It is the beauty you see in an old face that has lived. It makes other countries seem sort of sweet and trivial to me.”[3] Grigware became well known locally for his murals, most notably completing a large mural for the dome of the Cody Chapel that depicted the history of the church, and two murals for the former Seattle First National Bank in Spokane, Washington. Grigware died in 1960 in Cody, Wyoming.


[1] ‘The Summer Shows,” Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago, Vol. XXI, No. 6 (September 1927) p. 77

[2] “Edward Thomas Grigware: 1889-1960,” Cody Enterprise, February 4, 1960

[3] Mike Leon, editor and publisher, “Ed Grigware’s Art,” Wyoming. The Feature and Discussion Magazine of the Equality State, Vol I, No. 5 (1957) pp 14-19.

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