WEATHERBOUND: The Art of
Jay Hall Connaway In Our Time
by Ruth Greene-McNally
Jay Hall Connaway (1893-1970) Chronology
- 1893: Jay Hall Connaway is born in Liberty, Indiana to May and Cass
Connaway. Cass is a prominent Liberty lawyer and a collector of Chinese
- ca. 1900: Jay Connaway begins painting and drawing.
- 1910-1911: At age of seventeen, Jay Connaway enrolls at the John Heron
Art Institute in Indianapolis to begin formal training.
- 1911-1913: Connaway studies under William Merritt Chase and George
Bridgman at the Art Students League and attends classes at the National
Academy of Design in New York City. He becomes acquainted with Robert Henri,
a leading figure of the Ashcan School.
- 1911-1914: Connaway works his way cross-country stoking engines for
the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad. He makes his way through
Arizona, New Mexico, and along the California coast.
- While touring the Northeast, Connaway works several different jobs
including working for a fishing fleet off Newfoundland. Takes a job as
a cook in a lumber camp in Washington County, Maine so that he can study
rock formations and swells of the sea.
- 1914: Connaway is asked to participate in a mural project for the Wishard
Hospital in Indianapolis. He paints three works for the mural project.
It is not known if Connaway paints the murals on site or ships them from
the East. It is likely that Connaway has just recently finished his formal
education at the Art Students' League when he joins the project. The hospital
murals were found in a storeroom during remodeling in 1967. These quiet
landscapes are decidedly Impressionistic. The murals have been conserved
by the Indiana Museum of Art and are on display in the Burdsal units of
Wishard Hospital in Indianapolis.
- 1916: Connaway meets George Milch, owner of Milch Galleries.
- 1917: Enlists with the Allied European Forces to serve in France during
World War I where he becomes a cartographer.
- 1918: Connaway suffers a shoulder wound. While recovering in Lilly
Base Hospital 32, a hospital organized for the war effort by Eli Lilly
Co., a pharmaceutical firm in Indianapolis, he assists doctors at a volunteer-staffed
Red Cross outpost hospital in Contrexeville, France, located in the foothills
of the Vosges Mountains. Here, while on duty under Major Lafayette Page,
Connaway is assigned to do anatomical drawings in color of lesions to the
throat and lungs caused by mustard gas exposure, an assignment Connaway
called "the most wonderful work of my life."
- 1919: Connaway is discharged from active duty. Sponsored by a number
of army doctors, he continues his studies at Academie Juian under Jean
- Connaway has his first painting, Harmonies du soir accepted
for the Paris Autumn Salon. Although his father is bitterly opposed to
Jay's becoming an artist, he continues study in Paris at the Academie Julian
- 1920: Marries Flora Sherman in Paris. The couple divorces in 1927.
- 1921: Under the sponsorship of army doctors Connaway continues studies
at Ecole des Beau Arts.
- 1922: Connaway returns to the United States with plans to approach
several New York City galleries to present his portfolio. On the returning
ship he meets a well-known art and print dealer, Frederick Keppel who in
turn introduces Connaway to Robert Macbeth at Macbeth Gallery, New York
- 1923: Several of Connaway's paintings are accepted for his first one-man
exhibition at Macbeth Gallery in New York City. George Milch offers Connaway
rent-free studio space at 108 West 57th St, NYC.
- 1923-1925: With encouragement and financial backing by Robert Macbeth,
supplemented by cash from artists Paul Dougherty and Emil Carlsen, and
advice from Frederick Waugh, Connaway, "seeking to paint the lonely
sea," goes to Head Harbor Island near Jonesport, Maine.
- Connaway enlists as a surfman for the coastguard but is discharged
several months later due to limited swimming ability. He finds work as
a doryman with the Grand Banks Fleet off the coast of Newfoundland. Connaway
visits Monhegan Island during this time.
- Galleries generally assist promising artists with exposure by sending
their paintings, framed and shipped, to exhibitions around the country.
The galleries credit the artists when paintings are sold to cover bills
for canvas, paint, and other needs. Robert Macbeth provides financial sponsorship
to three artists at this time, including Jay Connaway. Galleries continue
the practice of crediting painters until the Great Depression when they
are no longer able to do so.
- 1925-1928: Connaway paints in Keene Valley, New York in the Adirondack
- Connaway meets Bartlett Arkell, presumably through George Milch or
Robert Macbeth of Macbeth Gallery. By this time, Arkell is well aware of
Connaway's following, having read reviews of recent exhibitions, particularly
that of the distinguished art critic, Royal Cortissoz.
- 1926: Connaway paints in the mountains in Peru, Vermont. In 1927 he
exhibits with Southern Vermont Artists, Inc., a group formed from the Dorset
Artists who held annual exhibitions at Burr and Burton Seminary in Manchester,
- Through friends, Jay Connaway meets Louise Boehl, a nurse training
at 5th Avenue Hospital. A trained concert pianist and singer, Louise sidelines
at clubs, charity luncheons, and ballroom dances.
- 1928: Jay Connaway marries Louise Boehl in a civil ceremony in Meriden,
Connecticut, her family present despite their objections to her marrying
a "starving artist." A wedding breakfast reception is held directly
afterward at the home of Bartlett and Louise Arkell at West 10th Street,
New York. Attending the reception are Robert Macbeth, Leonebel Jacobs,
portrait painter, Missy Meloney, editor of This Week of the New York Herald
Tribune, and Mr. and Mrs. Frank Barbour, Director of the Canajoharie Library
and Art Gallery. Mrs. Barbour is the sister of Bartlett Arkell.
- 1929-1931: With the backing from Bartlett Arkell, Robert Macbeth and
George Milch, Jay Connaway and his new wife Louise Boehl Connaway depart
for Brittany, France. They live in Concaneau and then move to the Hotel
Julia in Port-Aven near the Aven River. Jay interacts with the local community
of painters but finds them distracting. Most artists paint scenes by the
river Aven but Connaway walks eight miles to the sea to paint each day
- Connaway sends back a series of paintings to Robert Macbeth who exhibits
some and criticizes others. In his correspondence with Jay and with Louise,
he urges Connaway to think through his canvases more carefully and not
to send unrealized work. In particular, Macbeth criticizes Connaway's hanging
laundry motif as dull and suggests the artist not bother with the subject.
- 1929 The couple's only child, Leonebel Marie Frances Connaway is born
on June 10th in Port Aven, France. She is named for the portrait artist,
Leonebel Jacobs, with whom Connaway shared studio space in New York.
- 1931: The Connaways return to New York City in the midst of the Great
Depression. They are virtually penniless.
- Jay Connaway, Arthur Melterzer, J.H. Scott, exhibition at Macbeth
Gallery, April 4th
- (Connaway exhibits his Brittany subjects.)
- One-man exhibition, Vose Galleries, Boston.
- Signal Recognition Award for a painting selected for the Winter
Exhibition, Corcoran Art Gallery, Washington, DC.
- The Connaways move to a small studio in Portland, Maine and then to
Monhegan Island, Maine. Connaway is one of three principal Monhegan painters
working on the island during the 1930s and '40s Abraham Bogdanove,
born in Minsk, Russia and Andrew Winter born in Sindi, Estonia.
- 1932: Exhibition of Paintings by Jay Connaway, Pascal M. Gatterdam
Galleries, 145 West 57th St. Dec. 5th-17th
- 1933: Paints Monday on Mohegan, quite possibly his last "laundry
painting," a theme carried over after several unsuccessful laundry
paintings created in Brittany. Macbeth and Arkell praise the painting and
it is exhibited in The Sea at Monhegan, a one-man show of Connaway's
Monhegan work at Macbeth Gallery.
- One-man show, The Sea at Monhegan, Macbeth Gallery, April-June.
- Connaway writes to Robert Macbeth from Monhegan Island stating he is
flat broke and desperately needs canvas to paint. He writes that he sold
his canvas to a "lady who paints and since then have used old panels
of last winter." Connaway closes the letter saying he has been "very
blue." In a post-script he states, "Mr. Arkell sent me a nice
heavy overcoat. I have on now shoes and pants he bought me in Manchester,
the fall of 1928."
- Elected as an Associate to the National Academy of Design, New York
- 1934: Jay Connaway exhibits in a one-man show Marines by Connaway
at Macbeth Gallery.
- 1934: One-man exhibition, Macbeth Gallery, May 1st.
- Connaway's patron, Bartlett Arkell purchases three Connaway paintings,
"Monday on Monhegan," "Sea Over the Washerwoman," and
"Lobster Cove" from the spring exhibition held at Macbeth Gallery,
- 1939: Bartlett Arkell holds the mortgage on a house on Horn Hill, Monhegan
Island for the Connaway family. The deed is credited to the Canajoharie
Library and Art Gallery. Under lease agreement, Jay or Robert Macbeth pay
rent when Jay is unable to sell paintings. Robert Macbeth and Bartlett
Arkell pay for house repairs and utilities. Despite the assistance of Arkell
and Macbeth, the Connaways live a meager existence.
- Connaway paints in a studio in the forest on the northern side of
the hill behind Burnt Head. During his time on the island he has three
- Louise Connaway acts in the role of island nurse for the small community
of year-round residents. Her assistance during an epidemic flu saved the
lives of several islanders. Jay, having received medical training at Lilly
Base Hospital 32 in France, assists with island patients whenever Louise
is on the mainland.
- Establishes the Jay Connaway Art School on Monhegan Island.
- Connaway has a one-man exhibition in his home state of Indiana at the
Indiana Museum of Art, Marine Paintings, Dec. 11th-Dec.29th, 1939.
- 1940: One-man exhibition at Macbeth Gallery during the month of April,
followed by another (and tea party) at Vose Galleries, Boston, during May
arranged through Macbeth Gallery and through the efforts of the Connaway's
friend, Professor Warner Taylor of the University of Wisconsin. Taylor
is a summer resident on Monhegan.
- Robert Macbeth notes in a letter to Taylor that Connaway's work is
very uneven and some paintings do not appear to have been given serious
thought. He wonders if the artist may be suffering from one of his "periodic
mental disturbances" or is having trouble, as he does at times, with
his eyes. Macbeth notes that life on Mohegan is hard and Connaway may benefit
from less isolation and more contact with buyers.
- 1941: Summer Exhibition, Milch Gallery.
- One-man show, Milch Galleries, New York, Nov. through December.
- One-man show, Monhegan Marines, Macbeth Gallery.
- Connaway is represented by the Grand Central Galleries, New York City.
- The deed for the Monhegan house in which the Connaways live is transferred
from the Canajoharie Library and Art Gallery to Bartlett Arkell.
- 1942: German submarines are sighted off the coast of Monhegan Island.
Many islanders vacate for the mainland, including the Connaways who find
work in Berwick, PA through contacts of their friends Missy Maloney, an
editor at the Herald Tribune and Leonebel Jacobs, celebrity portrait painter.
Working for the American Car and Foundry in Berwick, Louise is a nurse
in the company infirmary and Connaway, who finds little time to paint,
is reassigned to design a tank parts' catalog. He continues to paint during
the day and then works for American Car from 3-11pm. Their daughter Leonebel,
attends Northfield Seminary in Massachusetts and joins her parents during
the summers and works in the office. The Connaways return to the island
periodically during the summers to attend business related to the selling
of Jay's paintings, which declines during the war. They return to Monhegan
- 1944: Word War II has a great impact on the course of Connaway's reception
at exhibitions. Fewer of his paintings sell.
- In a letter to from Bartlett Arkell to Warner Taylor, Professor of
English at the University of Wisconsin, (a summer resident on Monhegan
Island), Arkell explains he is not in a position to assist Connaway during
the war. He states he wishes the public regarded Connaway's paintings as
highly as Warner. He also states that, although he has not yet told Connaway,
it is his intention to leave the Monhegan bungalow to him in his will and
he hopes he will be able to use it successfully in years to come. He states
that Mrs. Arkell intends to buy some of Connaway's new paintings.
- Elected as full academician, National Academy of Design, New York
- 1946:?Bartlett Arkell dies in Canajoharie, New York. In his will, he
leaves the Monhegan property to Connaway.
- Many former US servicemen come to the island on the GI Bill to study
art at Connaway's art school. They meet daily at Odom's store and paint
at Burnt Head, White Head, Fish Beach and all the sites from where Connaway
paints. They meet again on Sundays at the Connaway's home for critiques
and lectures. Warner Taylor, attends the lectures and photographs the classes.
Taylor later writes letters of support on Connaway's behalf to the Vermont
Department of Education when Connaway relocates and re-opens his school.
- 1947: Jay Connaway is legally awarded the property at Monhegan Island.
- Feeling a sense of stagnation and frustration with the hard life on
Monhegan, the Connaways move temporarily to Berwick, Pennsylvania (where
they had worked in 1942) and then relocate in September to a rental property
in Dorset, Vermont. Their daughter Leonebel enrolls at Bennington College.
The couple is deliriously happy with the conveniences of life in Dorset.
They continue to visit Monhegan during the summers.
- Opens the Connaway Art School in Dorset, Vermont. He later merges the
school with Southern Vermont Artists, Inc.
- Connaway is one of the founding members of the Southern Vermont Arts
Center where he remains an active supporter until his death, often offering
workshops, classes and painting landscapes from memory on the spot. Workshop
attendees purchase the paintings from these sessions. Proceeds are donated
- 1948: One-main exhibition at the Newark Art Club in New Jersey.
- 1949: One-man exhibition, Milch Galleries, March 15th-April 3rd.
- 1953: Jay Connaway sells the Monhegan property: the house, studio and
8 acres of land for $5,000. He puts a down payment on a house in North
- 1957: Connaway travels to paint in Portugal, Spain, and Brittany, France.
- 1962: The Jay Connaway Art School of Dorset, Vermont merges with Southern
Vermont Artists, Inc., now known as Southern Vermont Arts Center, in Manchester.
Connaway continues to teach classes and offers lectures on Saturdays. Connaway
sets up a curriculum for servicemen on the GI Bill. He seeks funding to
found a rehabilitation hospital but settles on collaboration and support
for his school with the Veterans' Administration.
- Travels to paint at Sonoma and Port Lobos, California.
- 1965: Retrospective exhibition, Marine Paintings by Jay Connaway,
Macbeth Gallery, December 12th-26th.
- One-man exhibition, John Herron Museum, Indianapolis.
- Connaway travels to Portugal and paints by the coast.
- 1967: Jay Connaway's Landscape with Rolling Hills, ca. 1914,
painted as a landscape mural for the walls of Wishard Hospital, Indianapolis
undergoes restoration attempts. Restoration includes the removal of the
murals from the walls of the damaged Burdsal Building of the hospital campus.
The process of removing the murals causes damage and tears that were subsequently
covered by excessive filling and over-painting. Images of the step-by-step
restoration mural may be viewed at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/imaitsmyart/sets/72157614399310519/
- 1970: The University Art Gallery at SUNY Binghamton hosts a major retrospective
of Connaway's paintings.
- Jay Connaway dies on February 18th at the age of 76 while on vacation
in Tucson, Arizona. Although he requested to have his body donated to science
at the University of Vermont, his ashes are interred in the falls of the
Metowee Creek behind his studio in North Rupert.
- A retrospective exhibition of Connaway's painting is hung at Southern
Vermont Arts Center.
- 1980: A retrospective exhibition, Jay H. Connaway, N.A. is held
at Southern Vermont Arts Center, July 12th-27th.
- 1986: Jay Connaway, N.A. Exhibition, Vose Galleries of Boston, Inc.
- 1988: A retrospective exhibition of Jay Connaway's paintings is held
at the Monhegan Museum.
- 1997: Louise Boehl Connaway dies at age 93 in New Smyrna Beach, Florida.
Before her death, she bequeaths Jay's papers and photographs from Monhegan
along with her own papers to the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian
Museum, Washington, DC.
- 2006: Leonebel M. Connaway, of North Rupert, Vermont, daughter of Jay
and Louise, dies on July 26th at age 77 at Bennington, Vermont. Among a
variety of jobs, including secretary and director for the Society of Pragmatic
Mysticism, Leonebel managed her father's art gallery in North Rupert, Vermont.
- 2009:Moods of Nature, with painting from the Marjorie Benson
Osborn Collection, is held at the Portland Museum of Art, Portland, Maine.
- Connaway's hospital murals are exhibited by the Indianapolis Museum
of Art in, Preserving a Legacy: Wishard Hospital Murals, January
- Exhibition, Bernard Corey, Jay Connaway and Their Contemporaries,
Wiscasset Bay Gallery, Wiscasset, Maine, Sept. 2- Oct.9th
- 2010: Jay Hall Connaway: A Restless Nature, opens at the Shelburne
Museum, Shelburne, Vermont, May 16th- Oct.24th
- 2011: Jay Hall Connaway, Fleming Art Museum, University of Vermont,
To Look on Nature, Paintings by Jay Hall Connaway from the Marjorie
Benson Osborne Collection, March 1st-Sept. 5th.
- 2011:Exhibition, Rising from the Sea: The Art of Jay Hall Connaway,
Arkell Museum at Canajoharie, August 25, 2011-May 21st, 2012.
- 2012: Exhibition, Weatherbound: The Art of Jay Hall Connaway,
Southern Vermont Arts Center, July 28th, 2012-October 21st, 2012.
- Compiled by Ruth Greene-McNally, Exhibition Curator
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