Milford Zornes

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"Mission Scene"
14 1/2 x 18 1/2 inches

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Milford Zornes was born January 25, 1908 in Camargo, Oklahoma. His interest in art began at a young age when his mother, a school teacher, taught him basic fundamental drawing skills. At 17, he was hired as the United States General Land Office Survey Service lineman on a crew survey. He traveled as far as Yosemite and after his return in 1925, joined his family in San Fernando Valley, California. He finished high school and received basic instruction in art, then worked as a sailor in the U.S. Merchant Marines. From 1927-28, Zornes studied at Santa Maria Jr. College and is nationally published in a variety of magazines. Deciding to try something new, for a short while, Zornes attended Heads College studying architecture in San Francisco. In 1929, he traveled to New York City and was hired as a seaman. He worked his way to Denmark aboard the McCormick Line freighter and traveled through Holland, Belgium, and France. Having viewed many famous artworks in Paris, Zornes' interest in art was rekindled.

He enrolled at the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles in 1930 and took painting lessons from F. Tolles Chamberlin. Having received a scholarship from Pomona College, Claremont, he studied with Millard Sheets and became friends with fellow artist Tom Craig. In 1931, he was awarded first prize for the annual Pomona College Art Exhibition. After his graduation from Pomona College, his art career began to take off. He won first place in the 1933 Los Angeles County Fair Art Exhibition for a watercolor painting. In 1934, Zornes was elected to be a member of the California Watercolor Society. During the Depression, he was commissioned by the Public Works of Art Project to paint. In 1935, he married Gloria Codd and eventually built an ultra modern home in Claremont. The art gallery, The Claremont Shop, run by Gloria Codd, exhibited works by Zornes, Craig, and Sheets.

He taught at Polytechnic School, Pasadena, CA (1936-41), Otis Art Institute (1938-42), Pomona College (1946-50) where two of his students Roger Kuntz and Robert E. Wood became well-known artists, University of California at Santa Barbara (1948-49), and the Pasadena School of Fine Arts after 1956. In 1939, he received a commission from the Works Progress Administration to create and install a mural for US Post Office in El Campo, Texas. He divorces Gloria Codd in 1940, and in 1941, he served as chairman for the Art In National Defense and became nominated as the president to the California Watercolor Society. Zornes remarried after meeting Pat Palmer in 1942, but was drafted to the U.S. Army during World War II an deserved as the official artist in Asia from 1942-45.

In 1946, he traveled to Tucson, Arizona, and with artist Buck Weaver, helped Edith Hamlin Dixon finish two mural paintings that artist Maynard Dixon started before he passed away. In 1948, Zornes was elected into membership for the American Watercolor Society. Feeling restless, in 1950, Zornes resigned from his position at Pomona College and worked for North Atlantic Construction in Thule, Greenland. He traveled from 1952-55 to and back from Greenland spending 6-8 months working and painting there and the remaining time with his family and painting excursions to new places. In 1961, the changes in the Laguna Beach Art Association made Zornes break away and form a business offering watercolor workshops. In 1964, Zornes was given a prestigious title by being elected as an Associate of the National Academy of Design.

From 1978-1988, Zornes watercolor workshops were well-known and often sought after. His wife thus began arranging schedules for him. During this period, he held workshops in many countries other than the United States such as Mexico, Italy, China, Guatemala, the Indonesian islands of Bali, Java, and Sumatra, Ireland, Uganda, Yugoslavia, and Scotland. He authored the book, "A Journey to Nicaragua" in 1977. By 1994, having developed a successful career in his lifetime, Zornes was honored the full National Academian, the highest honor awarded to a representational artist in the United States. In 1999, Zornes developed a macular degeneration that affected his eyesight. While Zornes eyesight made it difficult for him to see things, he continued to paint. He passed away in his home in Claremont, California on February 28, 2008.

Member: Associate of the National Academy of Design; American Watercolor Society; San Diego Fine Art Society; Pasadena Society of Artists; Western Foundation of Art; National Society of Printmakers; Laguna Beach Art Association; Riverside Art Association; California Watercolor Society (Pres. 1952); Pomona Valley Art Association.

Exhibited: Annual Pomona College Art Exhibition, California, first prize, 1931, 1938, 1948; Los Angeles County Fair, California, first prize, 1933, 1982; Corcoran Gallery, Washington, D.C., 1934; Scripps College Art Gallery, California, 1934, 1936,1940; Elliot O’Hara’s Watercolor Gallery, Maine, 1934; Laguna Museum of Art, 1935, 1956; Jake Zeitlin Gallery, Los Angeles, 1935, 1940, 1949; California Pacific International Exposition, San Diego, California, 1935; Lawrence Art Galleries, Texas, 1937; Wichita Art Museum, Kansas, 1937; Gallery of Modern Masters, Washington, D.C, 1937; Chicago Art Institute, Illinois, 1938; San Diego Fine Arts Gallery, California, 1938; Walker Gallery, New York, 1938, 1939, 1940; Brooklyn Museum, New York; Denver Museum, Colorado; Cleveland Museum, Ohio; Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Pennsylvania; Toledo Museum, Ohio; Riverside Museum, New York; Cincinnati Museum, Ohio; National Academy of Design, New York; Butler Art Institute, Ohio; Golden Gate International Exposition, California, 1940; Biltmore Salon, Los Angeles, California,1940, 1942; Occidental College, Los Angeles, California,1941; Santa Barbara Museum of Art, 1943, 1949, 1950; Stendahl Galleries, Los Angeles, California, 1943; Gumps Gallery, San Francisco, California, 1943; United Nations Art Exhibit, Bombay, India, 1943; Pasadena Art Institute, 1947; Wilshire Gallery, Tucson, Arizona, 1948; Rembrandt Gallery, Claremont, California, 1949; La Jolla Gallery of Art, California, 1949; Rotunda Gallery, San Francisco, California, 1949; Whittier Art Association Gallery, Whittier, California, 1949; Bellflower Art Association Gallery, California, 1949; Ver Brugge Gallery, Los Angeles, California,1949; David Howell Gallery, Claremont, California, 1949, 1950; California Watercolor Society, 1955, 1962, 1998; American Watercolor Society, 1955, 1962, 1963; Addington Gallery, Desert Hot Springs, California, 1956, 1957; White Gallery, Montrose, California, 1956, 1963, 1966; Desert Magazine Art Gallery, California, 1958; Arizona State Fair, Purchase Award, Arizona, 1957; Southwest Art Gallery, Palm Desert, California, 1963, 1964; Riverside Art Center, California, 1966; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1967; Oklahoma Museum of Art, Oklahoma, 1968; Braithwaite Fine Arts Gallery, Cedar City, Utah, 1986; Pioneer Museum, Woodward, Oklahoma, 1987; Hillcrest Festival of Fine Arts, La Habra Heights, California, 1992; Claremont Fine Arts, California, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005; Muckenthaler Art Center, Fullerton, California, 1999; Fullerton College Art Gallery, California, 1999; Pasadena Museum of California Art, 2003; Ontario Museum of History and Art, Canada, 2004; 19th St. West Gallery, Costa Mesa, California, 2007.

Works Held: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Pomona College, Claremont; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; San Diego Fine Art Society; White House, Washington, DC; Glendale High School; Beverly Hills High School; U.S. War Dept.; Claremont Post Office; Butler Art Institute.

Milford Zornes: An American Artist by Gordon McClelland & Austin McClelland
Milford Zornes by Gordon McClelland and Milford Zornes