Zoray Andrus Biography

Zoray Andrus




Nevada-based painter and sculptor Zoray Andrus was born in Alameda, California, in 1908. The only child of a milliner and a brick mason, her parents instilled a love of creativity in Andrus, and encouraged her interest in pottery and painting. After graduating from Alameda High, Andrus enrolled at Oakland’s California College of Arts and Crafts (now known as California College of the Arts), where she studied under Isabelle West, Frederick Myers, and Xavier Martinez, among others. Through extracurricular programs, she was also mentored by Alexander Alechinksy and Hans Hoffman. Andrus pursued Abstract Expressionism almost exclusively by the end of her time at CCAC. She graduated in 1930 with a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts.


Andrus continued to live in the San Francisco Bay Area, working with artists’ groups as well as for the Public Works Association. Through the arts-focused New Deal program she was able to secure a job as an assistant to painter and muralist Joe Sheridan. She worked as a costume designer and set designer for the Federal Theater in San Francisco, and exhibited in group shows such as the San Francisco Museum of Art’s Annual Show, and at the Ansel Adams Gallery.


In the mid-1930s she attended a watercolor exhibit featuring the works of the Britton sisters, whose focus for the show was Virginia City, Nevada. Intrigued by the desert landscape portrayed in the works, she soon accepted an invitation by Reno-based artist Muriel Goodman Corbett to visit. She became acquainted with Virginia City’s Latimer Art Club, the preeminent artists’ group of West Nevada. Their works were traditional, realistic landscapes and portraits. Stylistically, Andrus was an outsider. But she wasn’t deterred, and continued to visit and become attached to Virginia City. While there, she met her future husband, mining engineer Eric Kremer, and by 1937 she had married and moved to her new home town. The newlyweds purchased the Nevada Brewery in Six Mile Canyon and transformed the building into a studio for Andrus. In 1940, she was included in Who’s Who in American Art.


Andrus continued to carve a niche for modern art in west Nevada. Having been an artist on commission for Gump’s in San Francisco for some time, by the end of World War II she was able to open her own gallery. She hosted the first known life-drawing class of the state of Nevada, employing a friend who had posed for Salvador Dali to pose for Andrus’ first course. These courses lasted through the mid-1950s and attracted professional artists and art professors from throughout the West. Though her own gallery was only open for a couple of years, other contemporary artists had by this time committed to the little town in the hills of the Nevada desert. Along with other professional artists, Andrus became a muralist for the city of Reno; she was also employed by Ford Times travel magazine to create a series of watercolors of various Nevada locations.


In 1957, Andrus left Virginia City for Carson City for a brief time, working for the legislature. Around 1970 she moved with her son to Mexico, where they lived for seven years before returning to the home of her birthplace, Alameda. She continued to work in the Bay Area, participating in the Fort Mason Printmaker’s group exhibition in Reno and selling her work through the Oakland Museum’s Collector’s Gallery. Andrus died in Alameda in 1990.