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Ralph Huntington McKelvey
(1877-1957)


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"Children at the Movie Theater"
1941
Oil on canvas
22 1/8 x 25 inches





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Ralph Huntington McKelvey was born December 7, 1877, in Sandusky, Ohio. His education included courses at Ohio State and Stanford Universities, and Oberlin College from which he was graduated in 1901. He married Helen Adelaide Fairchild July 15, 1903; and had three children, Ralph Jr. (d. 1928), John (d. 1937), and Helen (married 1938 to Walter T. Oakley). Places where he lived and worked include New York City 1902-1912, Suffern, N. Y. 1912-1929, Bradenton and Clearwater, Florida, Richford, N. Y. and Shepherdstown, West Virginia, from 1929-1957. He died in Bradenton, Florida on April 3, 1957.

As an artist he was self-taught, though he worked with artists in Florida and for a short period, 1932-33, in Mentone, France. He had a one-man show in New York City at The Studio Guild in 1939, other shows in Florida and West Virginia, and one traveling show when his work was sent over the country by the WPA, for which he was County Director. He helped establish the Art League of Manatee County in 1936 and in 1953 became its director, in the new Center built under his guidance and inspiration. He was director of the Clearwater Art Museum 1943-49; President Florida Federation of Art 1945-46; helped incorporate the Florida Artists Group; besides teaching art in the summer sessions of Shepherd College, Shepherdstown, West Virginia.

Experience other than art included almost 30 years in New York City in insurance, most of the time as head of R. H. McKelvey & Co., Lumber Insurance. Immediately after WWI he served as head of the Paris office of the YMCA. He wrote a weekly column of commentary for the Ramapo Valley Independent (Suffern, N. Y.) during the 1920s, and later contributed regular art news to the Bradenton Herald and Clearwater Sun.

Ralph Huntington McKelvey was born in Sandusky, Ohio in 1877. He studied at Ohio State University, Stanford University, and Oberlin College. McKelvey settled in Florida, living in Clearwater and Sarasota. Heworked as a painter, teacher and art critic. He wrote art columns for Florida newspapers and served as Director of the Clearwater Museum from 1943 to 1949. McKelvey is best known for his figurative paintings.

Work by McKelvey hangs in many private collections in the United States and England, also in several colleges—Rollins, Oberlin, Ohio Normal College, Shepherd—and the Brandenton Memorial Pier. His portrait by Michael Werboff was reproduced in the Art Digest of November 15, 1943; and his biography is included in the 1956 edition of “Who’s Who in American Art.”