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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Clinton Shepherd in Clewiston

Some fabulous murals in the Clewiston Inn's bar! Clinton Shepherd (1888-1975), the mural painter, was born in DesMoines Iowa. He studied some at the Wisconsin-Kansas City University but dropped out with his brother in 1906 to go live with the Crow Indians. ( I can just imagine what their mother went through). Finally in 1910 he attended the Chicago Art Institute to study painting. When WWI came along he enlisted and was a bugle boy. After the war he worked as an illustrator in NYC for magazines such as Collier's, The Saturday Evening Post, and Woman's World. As glossy magazines lost advertisement in the depression, Shepherd moved to Westport Connecticut and took up sculpting and painted covers for pulp fiction books.

In 1935 he moved to West Palm Beach Florida and taught at Barry University. He also became director of the Norton Gallery School of Art in Palm Beach. He died after a heart attack at his easel when he was 87 years old. (A fine way to go!)
He painted the murals for the Clewiston Inn in the 1940's. They were painted in his studio on linen and then installed like wall paper. With his careful planning, the art wraps around the interior of the room, framing the doors and windows with indigenous wildlife of the Everglades.
It was wonderful to sit among the creatures in the flora and take note of what animals still exist and what we may have seen in our travels. It felt truly like a time capsule. The bar room is a gem and worth a stop to see. It is in great condition because it has not been open to the public and is only open for the guests of the hotel.
Only a little older than Howard Simon, an artist I helped install an exhibition for last summer at the horsebarn, Shepherd has some of the same stylistic tendencies but would have just missed Simon in NY. I wonder if they knew of each other...
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