Williams Ore Prodigy Becomes Brilliant Artist


Friday, Feb. 17, 2017


Lynda Demsher


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The Rogue River Courier reported in June 1911 that a proud mother had just learned that her son had won a prestigious art award.  The newspaper said the New York Art Association had awarded the son, Ralph Stackpole, first prize in a contest and it presciently predicted a “brilliant career.”

Grants Pass, Ore., already considered Stackpole, born in Williams, Ore., an art prodigy. With his widowed mother’s encouragement, he enrolled in the Mark Hopkins Art Institute in San Francisco when he was just 16.  To earn money, he staggered studies with work as a surveyor for the proposed but ill-fated Grants Pass-to-Crescent City railroad.  

After the San Francisco earthquake destroyed his studio, Stackpole studied in France for two years, returning to San Francisco in 1908, where he became a prominent artist, sculpting a Venus at the Palace of Fine Arts. 

Today, Stackpole murals depicting American workers are in San Francisco’s Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill, public buildings in Sacramento, and the Department of Interior in Washington, D.C.  In 1915 Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered a Stackpole sculpture for his garden at Hyde Park.  Stackpole died in 1973.


Sources: Hailey, Gene. California Art Research, Ralph Stackpole, Jo Mora, Beniamino Bufano.  Vol. 14. San Francisco California, California Art Research Project of WPA, 1936, pp. 8-60. Archive.Orghttps://archive.org/details/californiaartres14hail.  Accessed 24 Jan. 2017; Kneeling Woman (1943) by Ralph Stackpole." Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library, National Archives.  https://fdrlibrary.tumblr.com/post/150815484834/kneeling-woman-1943-by-r.... Accessed 24 Jan. 2017; "Grants Pass Boy Wins Laurels as Sculptor." Rogue River Courier, 16 June 2017, p. 1+, oregonnews.uoregon.edu/lccn/sn96088281/1911-06-16/ed-1/seq-1/. Accessed 24 Jan. 2017.


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