john page
American printmaker
All artworks on this website are copyright © by John Page
Iconic subjects over the years
“The very early years, from 1923, can be omitted because I did no unusual drawing or painting until the high school years in Muskegon, Michigan, when we lived at 77 Southern Avenue. But at that home, while not art, I built many model airplanes including the ultra-light flying models using rubber bands, and even carved the propellers from a block of balsa. A special class for me in high school was having Don Bracket as an art teacher in the old industrial arts building. This was probably in 1937 or 1938 through graduation in 1940, because I took all the art classes possible, and the other required classes reluctantly. I have saved no class work done during that period; although I did paint murals on two different walls, the building was soon torn down, and those were destroyed. I do still have, however, the issue of “Said and Done,” the high school annual, in which were reproduced several of my linoleum cuts in color for some of the sections. My sketchbook habit was begun at this time, and I carried my sketchbook with me to all my school classes. I still have one of those. Don Bracket helped and encouraged me along with several  other of his art students (Evelyn Barager and Ralph Scharf among them) to enter the 1940 Scholastic Magazine Scholarship Contest by sending in a portfolio of drawings and paintings to NYC. Evelyn Barager (later Evelyn Bracket) and I both received a scholarship, she to the Chicago Art Institute and I to the Minneapolis School of Art.

None of my art products from that period could be called very special, but the interest aroused has continued ever since. The first that I will mention is an ink drawing titled Channel Dredge that was done (entirely at my own volition) in August 1940 before going away to art school in Minneapolis. I can remember sitting on a slope of the sand dune called Pigeon Hill overlooking the channel between Lake Michigan and Muskegon Lake. It was a complex subject, and I drew it directly in pen and indelible ink, with no pencil layout. I think it shows good composition as well as drawing skill. My father had given me the three-ring book and the index paper it was drawn on; he encouraged me at this time and at other times as well. For example, I have a drawing he did in pencil that shows me drawing and leaning on the breakwater with the lighthouse on Muskegon Channel in the background. His architectural training and practice, in the course of which he drew a lot, can easily be seen. I will mention a self-portait that I did in watercolor in 1940, as well as a pen and ink and watercolor (which I didn't title) that shows a group of three neighborhood stores. These and other early works that are still in my possession are examples of self-motivated works which were becoming a habit for me. I was now seventeen years old, soon going off to art school, and still living on Southern Avenue. Of course, during those years I was also very active in legion baseball, playing second base on the best team in the league. We even went to the state tourney in Detroit. I also played golf, but I will not go into that here.

The Minneapolis School of Art was next, so my next home was Minneapolis and my room on Third Avenue. School interested me and I was quite busy with classes, but I did have a small job at noon for which I worked at the institute at the telephone, and where I was able to eat my lunch while also doing the job. I soon found a good buddy, Orval Dillingham, and the second year we roomed together, and ate supper at Mrs. Strot's boardinghouse. I did a great deal of walking and usually the route took me to downtown and particularly to the area near the Mississippi River, where the dam and the grain mills and other industrial buildings lined the banks. Once, with Orv, we went down there and went into a bar where some scruffy men were drinking. We sat down at a table and started to draw them, which they seemed to enjoy. At the end, we gave them our drawings and the bartender gave us a free beer. It was fun for us. For our noon lunch, we usually walked a few blocks to Hennipin Avenue and Daisy's Cafe, where we joined by another art student, Richard Smith. All three of us were in Francis Greenman's oil painting class (years later, in her autobiography, she called us "her favorites"). She would set up still-life arrangements that emphasized texture—she was a very good teacher to start us in that medium. One of my paintings from that time made it into the next school flier; I still have that one, and I think a second one as well, rolled up. In such a large city, the art world was bigger than just the school and art museum, The Walker Art Center and a number of galleries were also on our routes. I always carried my sketchbook and I still have them. They show the variety of places that caught my eye, such as pool rooms and bowling alleys—places where you could draw people in action without being noticed. One of my best was a very small drawing using green ink along with black ink and pen. It was a good drawing and now I no longer recall where it is. Most interesting probably is a scratchboard drawing that began initially as a pencil drawing that I did after midnight while sitting on a curb. There were no cars around except for one that came past, then backed up, and a man leaned out and said,"What the @%# are you doing?", and I replied, "Just drawing this store." He said, "More power to you," and off he went. I did the scratchboard soon after in my room, and it worked very well in that medium. Another scratchboard that I remember is of myself looking in my bureau mirror, in which I also included a comb and brush as well as a cereal bowl and spoon (because I often had a bowl of cornflakes before going to sleep). Evelyn's photo also was stuck in the mirror. I didn't yet know that she and Don Bracket had gotten married.”
—John Page (November 2011) Contact
These memories are based on my place(s) of residence, and on what subject or subjects were produced that in hindsight have become characteristic of my work.—JP
An on-site pencil sketch of a young John Page, as drawn by his father (John Page, Sr.), who worked as an architect in Muskegon MI.
John Page, Channel Dredge (1940). Ink drawing, 7 x 10.5 in.
John Page, S-43 (2008), watercolor
River Series
Selected Works
New Work
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