Jack Jefferson Biography

Jack Jefferson




Jack Jefferson was born on Dec. 2, 1920, in Lead, S.D. Jefferson worked as a gold miner in the Homestakes Mines in 1939 and 1940 to earn money to attend the University of Iowa, where he studied from 1940 to 1942. He left the university to enlist in the Marines. Rising to the rank of sergeant, Mr. Jefferson was part of the first wave of fighting at Guadalcanal and served as a tail gunner on Marine aircraft.

Upon leaving the armed forces, Mr. Jefferson moved to San Francisco, where he attended the California School of Fine Arts. An avid fan and student of painter Clyfford Still, who was also a native of the Dakotas, Jefferson was among a group of the teacher's students who founded the Metart Gallery in San Francisco. Jack Jefferson held his first one-person exhibition at the gallery in 1949.

In 1953, Jefferson was awarded an Abraham Rosenberg Fellowship for travel in the northwestern United States and British Columbia. In 1959, he joined the faculty of the San Francisco Art Institute, where he is remembered as a mentor to many artists. He retired from the school in 1978.

While exhibiting was not a high priority for Mr. Jefferson, his works were shown nationally in 1953. He was also showcased in a one-artist exhibition at the M.H. deYoung Memorial Museum in 1960, in shows at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 1968 and 1976, the Whitney Museum Biennial Exhibition in 1975 and the Smithsonian Museum in 1977.

Most recently, Mr. Jefferson's paintings were exhibited in "The San Francisco School of Abstract Expressionism" at the Laguna Art Museum and at SFMOMA in 1996.

Jack Jefferson died on November 5, 2000 at St. Francis Memorial Hospital in San Francisco, California.