Richard Gentry Ayer Biography

Richard Gentry Ayer




Richard Gentry Ayer, painter, muralist, printmaker and sculptor, was born in San Bernardino, California on November 23, 1909. He spent his youth in Utah, but moved in 1924 to Fort Bragg, California where he completed high school. He studied at the College of Marin but was largely self-taught in art until the early 1930s, when he enrolled in courses at the California School of Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Art Institute), studying sculpture under Ralph Stackpole. Beginning in 1934 he was invited to assist with various San Francisco WPA Federal Art Projects, among them the Aquatic Park Building (now the Maritime Museum) mural under Hilaire Hiler, the frescos in the Presidio chapel under Victor Arnautoff, and the murals on the Federal Building for the Treasure Island International Exhibition. He was also a member of the WPA easel painting project.

Ayer served in the Army Air Corps during World War II first as a radio operator and then "painting grass for a psychotic major" (Smithsonian Archives of American Art, oral interview with Mary McChesney, September 26, 1964). After serving, he returned to San Francisco and resumed his studies. Between 1946 and 1948, he enrolled again at the California School of Fine Arts and he studied collage under Jean Varda, sculpture with Zygmund Sazevich, and printmaking with Stanley William Hayter. He primarily exhibited throughout San Francisco.

He was a member of the San Francisco Art Association and frequently exhibited in their annual Painting and Sculpture Exhibition. Ayer's work was also included in the 20th Annual Exhibition of Northwest Printmakers at the Seattle Art Museum. In addition to various group shows at the San Francisco Museum of Art throughout the 1930's and '40s, a solo exhibition was mounted there in 1940. His work is in the collection of the Maritime Museum in San Francisco.

Richard Ayer died in San Francisco on August 27, 1967.

Selected Solo Exhibitions:
San Francisco Museum of Art, 1940
Lucien Labaut Gallery, San Francisco, 1950
Vesuvio Cafe, San Francisco, 1954
Glad Hand Restaurant, Sausalito, 1954

Selected Group Exhibitions:
20th Annual Exhibition, Northwest Printmaker, Seattle Art Museum, 1934
Annual Painting and Sculpture Exhibition, 1939, 1941 - 1943, 1950, 1954
San Francisco Palace of the Legion of Honor, 1947 (hon. mention)
The Art Bank of the San Francisco Art Art Association, 1958-1960