Ralph Avery (
1907– 1976) was known as a quiet, reserved man who illustrated beautiful watercolor paintings and town-landscapes. He recorded city streets, churches, trees, iron fences, and the ambiance of Rochester, New York. He has also painted in Mexico, the West Indies, Europe, and Northern Africa. Some say he painted Rochester with a hint of Paris.
Ralph Avery had been painting since his childhood. Born in Savannah, Georgia; Avery moved to Rochester, New York in the early 1920s and studied at Rochester Institute of Technology (Athenaeum, and Mechanics Institute), earning his degree in 1928. From 1930-1931, Avery studied at Louis C. Tiffany Foundation, Oyster Bay on a scholarship. He studied with Charles Woodbury, Harry Leith-Ross, and Carl Peters, among others. Avery taught in the Department of Applied Art at RIT for twenty five years. By the time of his death in 1976, Avery had become one of the most identifiable and popular painters in Rochester.
tyle of work
He mainly painted scenes from Rochester and the Corn Hill area including: grey-foggy views of the skyline, portraits of elegant old city homes and abstractions of natural areas. Ralph Avery Claims his work was heavily influenced by Japanese artists with simple, flat, decorative patterns and strong designs. A friend of his, John Menihan stated, "Avery's total work did much to eliminate the line between commercial and fine art...he was so good he would win a prize in any company."
"....I walk the streets of Rochester and get inspiration daily." - Ralph Avery."I'm a real downtowner...I like to be right around the corner from where things are happening" - Ralph Avery. When Avery first came to this region, he entered a Finger Lakes Competition and was voted “most popular” and became the first recipient of the Rumrill-Hoyt Award. Ralph Avery’s paintings were mainly of Rochester and the Corn Hill area. There is a section of Corn Hill dedicated in his memory called the Ralph Avery Mall. This mall is a tribute to Avery’s illustrations and paintings done in the Rochester area. Ralph Avery found beauty in Rochester's dreary weather that most people complain about. To him, there was something beautiful about Rochester rain and snow. A close friend, Mrs. Vera Fogg, described Avery when she said, "He saw beauty in the city all the time." He appeared in the Saturday Evening Post. Avery's artwork appeared on the cover of Readers Digest fourteen times.Ralph Avery resided at the Daughters of the American Revolution house on Livingston Park, and his studio was located at 60 North Fitzhugh Street in Rochester, NY.
Famous works of art
John Menihan once said, "If Ralph had a favorite [work of his own] , it was the next one he would be doing."
"The Statue of Mercury, " messenger of god's and the highlight of Rochester, New York's city skyline though Avery's eyes, is one of his most remember works. This series is a collection of seven paintings, all containing "The Statue of Mercury", are from different vantage points and in different seasonal weather depictions. The titles of these mastered, influential paintings are as follows: 1). Silhouette at Night2). Guardian of the River3). A Ladder to the Sky4). The Company of the Gulls5). Familiar Landmark6). Reflections on Spring Day7). One of theses Winter Days
Avery's paintings appeared on many greeting card covers, calendars, and, as mentioned before, the cover of Readers' Digest. The Bevier Gallery at Rochester Institute of Technology holds pieces from Avery's collection. On December 04 to December 18 of 1976; 75 of his paintings were on display in this gallery in celebration of his life.
Avery's estate gave the Memorial Art Gallery (Rochester, NY) over 450 pieces of his collection. The collection includes sketches of how he came about some paintings, as well as tracings from photographs, among various styles of work.
Honors and awards
1954 - Pratt Purchase Prize1954 - One-man exhibits at Smithsonian and National Collection of Fine Arts1957 - Grumbacher Purchase Prize1957 - Rudolf Lesch Fine Arts Purchase Prize1960 - Named Fellow of Rochester Museum and Science Center1967 - Outstanding Alumnus at Rochester Institute of TechnologyLilian Fairchild Award of University of Rochester1976 – Arnot Art Gallery, Elmira, New York1980 – Memorial Art Gallery, Rochester, New York
In September 1954, Avery's "Plymouth Avenue Rain" was displayed in America's Top 40. His piece was chosen by the American Watercolor Socity to be displayed in this show.
Affiliations with organizations
Rochester Art ClubServed as President from 1935 – 1938American Watercolor SocietyAssociate member of the National Academy of Design
Credit:Rochester Institute of TechnologyHis work can be found in the collections at the Memorial Art Gallery, the Newark Public Library, the Rochester Public Library, and the Bevier Collection at Rochester Institute of Technology.
A Rochester Retrospective (August 01 - September 21, 1980: Laura Stewart-BaranBarbara O'ReillyBrighton-Pittsford Post: December 09, 1976Democrat and Chronicle: January 25, 1976Memorial Art GalleryRetrospective: May 01 - June 08, 1980Times Union: January 27, 1976
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