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Museum & Gallery

An Artist Journey
John Ford Clymer
January 23 - March 9 2024

“Although I have painted for more than fifty years, each year becomes more exciting than the one before.” John Ford Clymer

Installation detail

Installation detail

Indians with Petroglyphs 1925

Indians with Petroglyphs 1925

Paul Kane on the Columbia

Paul Kane on the Columbia

Only the Sound of Water (detail)

Only the Sound of Water (detail)

Only the Sound of Water 1979

Only the Sound of Water 1979

Early Spinning, Dyeing, Weaving in Peru 1952

Early Spinning, Dyeing, Weaving in Peru 1952

Old Woman & the Fiddler, c.1930s

Old Woman & the Fiddler, c.1930s

Detail- The Dance

Detail- The Dance

The Dance, c.1930s

The Dance, c.1930s

Call For Artists 2024!
Interested in exhibiting
at the Clymer in 2023? 
Send a brief bio, up
to 4 slides, or your
website address, to:
curator@clymermuseum.org

Curator’s Notes: This exhibition is meant to reveal John Ford Clymer’s journey as an artist.  It began at an early age.  His talent is demonstrated in the pen & ink drawings on display.  Completed at the age of 15, when he is signing as Junior Clymer.  By the 1920s he is exploring the Cannon of art with studies like the Girl with Fruit Basket or the painterly but more academic Empire Baby.

In the same period, he paints Indians with Petroglyphs.  This painting is much more a Clymer.  It reveals an excitement for painting and ideas. 

In the 30s he retains consistency with narrative paintings. This is exemplified in Girl and Cockatoo.  Even more dramatic in expression is Old Woman and Fiddler, an eerie work exclusively of a black and white pallet.

 His work from the Yearling series, Jody and the Deer and The Dance, reveal a tenderness and sense of humor for our humanity.  Look closely at The Dance.  There is the exuberance of the dancers, surrounded by the complexity of the observers.  There are the gossiping, disapproving old biddies, an old woman contemplating another chunk of cake. There are older men enjoying the youthful vigor of the dancers.   Perhaps they are reflecting on their lost vitality, as the youth on the edge of the painting, wait for their chance to revel in their approaching adulthood.

There are marvelous examples of Clymer as an American Impressionist, Shushkin Canyon (1938).  Impressionism will remain fundamental to all his mature work.

In the 50s there are works that seem out of context with his illustrative paintings unless we keep reminding ourselves that he was more than an illustrator.  Take Early Spinning, Dyeing, Weaving in Peru (1952).  This is a reminder that his interest, perhaps influenced by a world war, went beyond American introspection. 

Clymer was passionate about America’s wilderness.  The subject in Only the Sound of Water is not tamed.  Look at this cougar.  Those eyes reveal the predator, that muscular body demands a cautious approach. 

It is another example, from the many presented here, that require us to step back and look deeper into Clymer’s development, interests, and the full context of his body of work.  It’s important to broaden our understanding of Clymer, to recognize him as an artist in the fullest sense of that word.

All Art/Images© Copyright the Artists
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416 N Pearl Street, Ellensburg, WA 98926

Tuesday – Friday 11 am – 5 pm

Saturday 11 am - 3 pm

Closed January 1,

Thanksgiving & December 25

Phone: (509) 962-6416

Email:  info@clymermuseum.org

curator@clymermuseum.org

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