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May Gearhart

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May Gearhart

American, (1872–1951)
May Gearhart was an American printmaker who was part of an early 20th century circle of Southern California printmakers strongly influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement and Japanese art. Gearhart was born in Sagetown, Illinois, in 1872. Her older sister Frances became a noted printmaker and watercolorist; another sister, Edna, was also an artist. The family moved to California in the 1880s, and Gearhart was educated at the State Normal School at Los Angeles and then at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where one of her teachers was Rudolph Schaeffer. May gained further art training intermittently throughout her life. She learned block printing from the printmaker Arthur Wesley Dow at the Ipswich Summer School of Art in Massachusetts. She learned etching from Benjamin Brown, who lived near her in Pasadena and was a cofounder of the Print Makers of Los Angeles (which later merged with the Print Makers Society of California, PMSC). In 1930 she studied with the painter Hans Hofmann. Gearhart worked mainly in soft-ground color etching but also made block prints. She favored landscapes and genre scenes whose simplified forms, stylized drawing, and subtle colors and textures were influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement, Japanese art, and Arthur Wesley Dow's aesthetic.

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