Ethel Greene Biography

Ethel Greene




San Diego-based, Boston native Ethel Maud Greene was born in 1912, exact dates kept a mystery by the artist. She attended the Boston University School of Art and the Boston Museum School, and finally graduated from the Massachusetts School of Art, likely in the mid-1930s. She took a job at a greeting card company in Boston but, as American's involvement in the war ramped up, she believe that it would be a failing business. She decided to try her luck out west. Taking a job as a techinical artist for the aircraft company Consolidated Vultee (now General Dynamics), she moved to San Diego, California in 1943.

Though her formal training focused on Realism and watercolors, she was drawn to the work of contemporary movements such as Abstract Expressionism and other experimental genres; as well, a particular interest was the work of Rene Magritte and other Surrealists who represented a true departure from the art she was exposed to in school. She joined the San Diego Art Guild and participated in her first exhibition with them in 1949, continuing to paint while working at the Univerity of California Division of War Research lab in Point Loma and as a technichal artist for the U.S. Navy. When her first painting sold in the early 1950s to a local collector, she retired from 9 to 5 work to become a full time painter, and soon began exhibiting throughout Southern California. By the 1960s she had established herself as a sought-after Surrealist artist in San Diego and beyond.

Greene continued to enjoy moderate success until her death in Spring Vally, California, in 1999, having by then exhibited internationally and captured the eye of celebrity collectors such as Elizabeth Taylor. She also gained a reputation as a leading contemporary female Surrealist, a genre whose leading enthusiasts had historically rejected the art of women participants in major exhibitions, and she worked generally as a women artists' advocate for many years. 

Selected exhibitions:
San Deigo Arts Guild Annuals (1949 - 1963)
Artists of L.A. & Vicinity, Los Angeles County Museum (1950, '52, '55)
La Jolla Art Center, solo exhibition (1956)
California Watercolor Society Annuals (1958, '60, '63)
San Diego Fine Arts Gallery, two-person show with Fred Holle (1961)
Southwestern College (1962)
San Diego County Fair (1963)
Cal Western University Invitational (1963)
Long Beach Museum of Art, Arts of Southern California XIII (1963)
Jefferson Gallery, solo exhibitions (1963, '65)
Bertha Schaefer Gallery, New York (1966)
Yokohama Citizen's Gallery, Japan (1979)
University of California at San Diego (1990)
Oceanside Museum of Art, "San Diego Surreal" (posthumous; 2019)

San Diego Art Guild (president, 1956)
California Watercolor Society
Artists Equity Association

Public collections:
San Diego Museum of Art, California; Western University; La Salle College, Pennsylvania; among others.

Private collections:
Estate of Elizabeth Taylor; estate of Larry Bell; among others.