Evelyne Boynton Grierson
~ The Painter of Western Ghost Towns 1909 - 1994
The artist, author and 'Painter of Western Ghost Towns', Evelyne Boynton Grierson, was born three miles off the shore of California near the town of Walnut Grove in 1909. After the death of her mother, Evelyne was raised by two aunts. Her school years where spent in Los Angeles, where she excelled in the arts. After High School she went to live with her Aunt Kate in Iowa, where she attended college, and continued her education in art. Evelyne was born with the ability to paint. She was an art major at Iowa State university and went on to teach art at Schenectady, NY. Evelyne loved the western desert and painted many desert landscapes along with paintings of Ghost Towns and some portrait work.
In the late 1950’s Evelyne along with her husband would venture into the high desert of California and Nevada in search of western treasure. Trips to once booming towns such as Aurora, Bodie, Goler Gulch, Ballarat, and Cero Gordo are just a few of the heavily populated towns of the mining era visited by Evelyne. Often, Evelyne would sketch the towns she visited. After repeat visits t the same site Evelyne would notice that the towns she once knew as being untouched and almost pristine, were starting to disappear. Effects of years of the treasure hunter along with severe great basin storms, was slowly taking it’s toll on the old buildings. This inspired Evelyne to start painting the towns as she saw them. Towns like Aurora, Nevada, which hardly exist today, are preserved on canvas.
Evelyne went on to paint 21 Ghost Towns and in 1962, wrote a book describing each town along with some local history. This was published to accompany the paintings which were also featured in the book.
Beautiful paintings won Evelyne many awards. Her work was featured in magazines such as Desert, Westways, Victoria and Living Magazines including many write-ups in the local press. Many businesses in the LA area and along the Eastern Sierra sold her book, “I Paint The Ghost Towns”.
In 2007 The Mono Basin Scenic Area Visitors Center presented a special posthumous exhibition of the historical, preservationist “Ghost Town' paintings of
Evelyne Boynton Grierson. This exhibit was made possible by the help and cooperation of the following agencies; Eastern Sierra Interpretive Association, Forest Service US Department Of Agriculture, Inyo National Forest Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area, California State Parks and the USDA.
Prints of these valuable, historic, preservationist paintings that capture the remnants of a bygone era in American Western History can be ordered in a number of different sizes right here on Fine Art America.
“The Ghost Towns of the West stand as a documentary monument to a way of life that no longer exists. I hope through these paintings and a little history of the people who lived at that time, they will allow you to browse back into the pages of time, while you are browsing in the ruins of today. I hope you will appreciate and try to preserve what is left.” ~ Evelyne Boynton Grierson Born 1909 - Died 1994
From book, “I Paint The Ghost Towns” by Evelyne Boynton Grierson
All these towns are held together by a metallic thread, some are gone, soon to be forgotten, some still occupied with hardly a trace of their former glory --- but their memory is a monument to those who founded and had a part in their growth. The days of the El Dorado and the Bonanza are no more but their flame drew those who populated the west. To those men of courage and stamina and the women who followed them I dedicate the book.
“A WAY OF LIFE”
How shall I paint you, a town that lies crumbling in the dust,
A light in the window, children’s voices in the air
The sound of a honky-tonk piano, as rough men swear?
No, you are gone, the past of a short time ago:
You lie sleeping up on the hill,
The sage now creeps slowly up the streets where once you trod.
The doorways stand bare as the buildings within,
For those who come to stare, stayed only long enough to rob.
The boardwalks no longer creak from heavy feet,
The stamp mill has ceased it’s rumble.
Only the walls remain, faltering arms, that crack and crumble.
All these things that you toiled and built,
On once busy streets
Now are slowly blending with the sand the silt.
No Little town, that mushroomed so fast,
Your way of life lies still, in the decadent past:
And I shall paint you thus.
A Poem by Evelyne Boynton Grierson
Commentary by artist Frank Wilson, Paradise, California
“I have always felt that history is best seen through the eyes of an artist. When I look at Evelyne Boynton Grierson’s paintings of ghost towns I can see people moving about in their daily routine, hopeful that the hardships they have endured will bring better times. Of all the subjects that Evelyne could have painted she chose to capture the deteriorated and abandoned dreams of those gone by.” ~ Frank Wilson