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George Booth Post
Birth Date: 
Birth Place: 
Oakland, CA
Death Date: 
Death Place: 
San Francisco
One of best-known California watercolor artists of the 20th century, George Booth Post was also a sought-after instructor in painting watercolors who taught at a variety of institutions over four decades. Born in Oakland in 1906, George Booth Root III’s parents were divorced a few years after his birth. After living with his grandfather in Oakland, his mother married Walter Post and the family moved to Gold Hill, Nevada in 1915 for four years and Post began using his stepfather’s surname. Post attended Polytechnic High School after the family moved to San Francisco in 1919, where he received his first art instruction, and continued to attend the school after the family moved to Oakland in 1921. After graduation in 1924, he received a scholarship to study at the California School of Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Art Institute), where his teachers included Gottardo Piazzoni (1872-1945) and Otis Oldfield (1890-1969). After his scholarship ended, Post left the School and supported himself with various odd jobs in advertising and work as a laborer. Although he received little instruction in watercolor at the School, he became very interested in this medium while viewing a show of outstanding watercolors by Stanley Wood (1894-1949) in 1929. After teaching himself the technique, he became a committed watercolorist. By 1930, Post had married and found work as a commercial artist, while painting watercolors of San Francisco cityscape subjects. His first solo exhibition at the Galerie Beaux Arts in San Francisco in 1931 received a favorable newspaper review, and he exhibited in another solo show at the San Francisco Art Center the next year. Laid off from his job and divorced in 1933, Post found work on an oil tanker traveling to New York City and back. During the trip he painted watercolors depicting maritime scenes. After his return he moved to the Mother Lode near Sonora for two years, but continued to exhibit in San Francisco. The Federal Works Progress Administration’s (WPA) Art Project commissioned Post to paint a mural for Sonora High School in 1935, his only major oil painting on canvas. Supported by the WPA program after his return to San Francisco, Post produced numerous views of San Francisco and Oakland, including construction of the new Bay Bridge. He was invited to join the group organized by Maynard Dixon (1875-1946) and Maurice Logan (1886-1977) called the “Thirteen Watercolorists,” participated in traveling exhibitions sponsored by the California Water Color Society, had numerous one-man shows in galleries and museums including the Legion of Honor and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and sold a watercolor to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. He also taught at the Art Students League in San Francisco. In 1940 he began traveling regularly to the Seattle-Tacoma area, where he painted scenes around Puget Sound, and taught at Stanford University. During World War II Post worked as a cargo stowage planner at Ft. Mason and continued to paint and exhibit. After the war, Post’s style evolved, becoming more abstract with geometric shapes representing landscape objects. Invited to teach at Oakland’s California College of Arts and Crafts (CCAC, now the California College of the Arts) in 1947, he taught watercolor painting there two days a week until 1972. He also taught at the summer painting school organized by the painter Rex Brandt (1914-2000) in Corona del Mar from 1949 to 1977. Post traveled extensively for the rest of his life, often with his companion Elvin Fowler (1909-2009), recording sights from this travels in his many watercolors. Post began exhibiting at the annual exhibitions of the American Watercolor Society in New York City in 1953 and was elected a member of the Society in 1954. The Legion of Honor mounted a major retrospective exhibition of his art in 1960. In 1962 the Oakland Art Association hired Post to teach a group of art students traveling in Europe, which led a number of other organizations in several states to hire him for similar instructional programs. Post and Fowler took an eleven-month around the world trip in 1968-69, with all the stops recorded in his paintings. After retiring from the CCAC in 1972, Post began teaching at workshops organized by the T. H. Hewitt company, and would eventually teach at sessions in Canada, Italy, Mexico, Morocco, Spain and fifteen American states. Post taught his last class for Hewitt in 1987, and then retired to his San Francisco home with Fowler. Post died of pneumonia in 1997. (TNB 12/2013). Selected bibliography: Berney, Charlotte. “George Post,” in Ruth Lilly Westphal and Janet Blake Dominik, eds. American Scene Painting: California, 1930s and 1940s, pp. 210-215 and passim. Irvine, CA: Westphal Publishing, 1991. McClelland, Gordon T. George Post. Beverly Hills: Hillcrest Press, 1991.