May Gearhart Biography

May Gearhart




The second daughter of a merchant, May Gearhart was born in Sagetown (later Gladstone) Illinois in 1872 and moved with her family to Southern California before 1890. One of 3 sisters (Frances and Edna the other two) she had the most extensive art education, attending the L.A. State Normal School, the Art Institute of Chicago and CSAA in San Francisco, where she studied with Rudolph Schaeffer.  She spent a summer at Columbia with Arthur Dow.

She began teaching art in the Berkeley Public Schools in 1900 and in 1903 became supervisor of art for the L.A. City Schools which she held to 1939.  In 1930 she studied with Hans Hofmann at U.C. Berkeley.

She learned etching from Benjamin Chambers Brown, a Pasadena neighbor and cofounder of the Print Makers of Los Angeles (later the Calif. Print Makers Society).  In 1919 she began living with her sister Frances in Pasadena and their house was a headquarters for the PMLA. 

She was a member of and exhibited with the Chicago Society of Etchers, Print Makers Society of California, Pacific Art Association and the Society of American Etchers. Her work is represented in the collections of the Los Angeles County Museum, Smithsonian and the Achenbach Foundation.  She died in Altedena, CA. in 1951.