John Wesley Grossman Biography

John Wesley Grossman




Painter, printmaker, and graphic artist John Grossman was born in Des Moines, Iowa in 1932. An early interest in art led him to teach himself to draw by copying Buck Rogers comics and science fiction pulp magazine illustrations. Upon graduation from high school, in which he focused on graphic art, Grossman received a scholarship to the Minneapolis School of Art in 1950. There he remained until his service in the U.S. Army in 1952.

After completion of service in 1954, Grossman moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he established himself as a commercial artist in San Francisco. He took a two-year hiatus to study and travel in Europe, enrolling in the 
Cours de la Civilization Francaise at the Sorbonne in FranceReturning to California in 1958, he then took a position teaching lettering and design at the San Francisco Art Institute from 1960 to 1966. His work received awards from the Art Director's and Artist's Club of San Francisco and the Art Director's Club of Los Angeles, and appeared in the International Poster Annual 1967-1970.

In 1966, John began to paint in oils. His work in graphic design informed his detail-oriented, realistic style. His still lifes and California landscapes comprised one-man shows in San Francisco in 1968, 1969 and 1972. The Haggin Museum in Stockton, CA organized major exhibits of John's work in 1972 and 1978. All of his works are now in public and private collections.

John was appointed to the California Arts Commission by Governor Ronald Reagan in 1967, serving as Vice-Chairman and then as Chairman from 1969 to 1972. His painting "California Golden Hills" was presented by Governor Reagan to the Emperor and Empress of Japan in 1971 during Reagan's trip to the Orient as President Nixon's special emissary. In 1972, Governor Reagan also presented "Late Afternoon in the California Hills" to President Luis Escheverria during a ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Mexico City.

Grossman was also a noted collector of antique chromolithographic ephemera, and he and his wife Carolyn founded a licensing company that reproduced the images from the collection. The company operated from 1985 to 1998.

Grossman died in 2016.

Information partially obtained from the artist's ephemera website, which can be found at