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John Sharp was a painter from the Midwest who brought his American Regionalist training, most notably under Grant Wood (of American Gothic fame), to Bucks County in the 1930s. In addition to painting local scenery and architecture, he helped found New Hope's Bucks County Playhouse. His oil paintings, which portray landscapes, still-lifes, and architecture in detailed and precisely designed compositions, reflect both American Regionalist and Precisionist influences in their portrayal of American culture and forays into the abstract. Sharp's concern with balancing light and shapes within the composition sometimes led him to treat geometric elements in architecture as well as biomorphic forms (such as trees and vegetables) more abstractly than realistically. Sharp participated in the Works Progress Administration, for whom he painted several post office murals in Iowa. His painting of Indian Corn was featured on the cover of Collier's magazine. His work had major exhibitions throughout the Midwest and in New York, as well as in Bucks County, where he lived for nearly twenty years with his longtime companion and artistic collaborator, Paul Crosthwaite.
John Sharp. Unidentified Photographer. James A. Michener Art Museum archives.
Education and Training
State University of Iowa, Ames, Iowa
Study with Grant Wood, Stone City, Iowa
Art Students League, New York, New York
The National Academy of Design, New York, New York
Teachers and Influences
Study with Grant Wood, Stone City, Iowa
Connection to Bucks County
John Sharp moved to Bucks County around 1934 and lived there until 1955. He shared an apartment over the Solebury Bank Building in New Hope with Paul Crosthwaite, whom he had met when they were both students at the Art Students League in New York. Their apartment, and a summer house located north of Lumberville, was a mecca for those interested in the arts. Both men were active in the community, including the founding of the Bucks County Playhouse. They both recorded the historic buildings of the area and the local scenery in their paintings. Crosthwaite and Sharp moved to Florida in 1955 but continued to exhibit in Bucks County.
Colleagues and Affiliations
John Sharp lived and worked in New Hope and Lumberville with his lifelong companion, artist Paul Crosthwaite. Both men were active in the New Hope community and helped found the Bucks County Playhouse in 1939. Cartoonist and painter William H. Cotton was also a friend and a colleague. John Sharp's paintings Bucks County Playhouse and Thompson Neely Barn were exhibited at the National Academy of Design in New York (1949, 1950).
Major Solo Exhibitions
One-Man Show, Milch Galleries, New York, New York, 1952
Exhibition of Paintings by John Sharp, Woodmere Art Gallery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1953
One-man shows at the Island of Nantucket, Massachusetts, 1950s
Major Group Exhibitions
Biennial Exhibition, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1949, 1951, 1953
National Academy of Design, New York, New York, 1949, 1950
Annual Exhibition, University of Illinois, Illinois, 1952
The Late Years, paintings of Paul Crosthwaite and John Sharp, Richard Stuart Gallery, Pipersville, Pennsylvania, 1982
Bianco Gallery, Buckingham, Pennsylvania, 1985
Albright Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York
Carnegie International Exhibition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
City Art Museum of St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri
Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines, Iowa
Detroit Institute for the Arts, Detroit, Michigan
Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, Massachusetts
Los Angeles County Museum, Los Angeles, California
Milwaukee Art Institute, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
National Gallery, Ottawa, Canada
Toledo Museum, Toledo, Ohio
American Academy of Fine Arts and Letters, New York, New York
Dallas Museum, Dallas, Texas
Michener Art Museum, Doylestown, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Annual Prize, American Academy of Arts and Letters, 1930s
Honorable Mention, Hallmark Art Award, 1951
Works Progress Administration projects, Post Office Murals, Iowa
John Sharps had paintings reproduced in Saturday Evening Post, Collier's, Esquire, Christian Science Monitor, Life, Ladies Home Journal, House and Gardens, House Beautiful, and Cue.