Artists & Designers

Everett Franklin Spruce (1908-2002)

Born in 1908 near Conway, Arkansas, Everett Franklin Spruce was raised on an apple and peach farm in the Ozark Mountains. He graduated from high school in Mulberry, Arkansas, and around that time met Olin and Kathryn Travis, whose summer art camp was nearby. Spruce's artistic talents impressed the Dallas couple, and in 1925 they brought him to Dallas to study at the Dallas Art Institute. He subsequently studied painting and drawing with Travis and Thomas Stell, respectively.

In 1931 the young artist became friends with Dr. John S. Ankeny and became a gallery assistant at the Dallas Public Art Gallery (forerunner of the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts and Dallas Museum of Art), later serving as a registrar and then assistant director. In 1932 he had his first one-man exhibition at the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts and began receiving the positive reviews that would accompany his exhibitions all his professional life. Other solo exhibitions followed, at the Dallas Art Institute in 1933 and at the Joseph Sartor Galleries in 1934. He was one of the Texas artists chosen for the First National Exhibition of American art at Rockefeller Center in 1936. He also exhibited in and aided in the installation of the Texas Centennial Exposition that same year.

Spruce was the first Dallas artist chosen to exhibit his work at the Delphic Studios in New York in 1937, and the following year he had a larger solo exhibit at the Hudson D. Walker Galleries, a show extensively commented upon in the New York and national art press. During this time Spruce was widely recognized as one of the most original artists of the Texas group and received many awards and purchase prizes in local and national exhibitions. In 1939 his oil painting, The Hawk, entered the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In 1940 he won the prestigious Dealey Prize and left Dallas to join the art faculty of the University of Texas at Austin. He served there until his retirement from active teaching in 1974. Spruce’s paintings have always been derived from his love for nature, both in his native Arkansas and his adopted state of Texas, from the Ozark Mountains to the Big Bend country.

Adapted from

  • Rick Stewart, _Lone Star Regionalism: The Dallas Nine and Their Circle (_Dallas Museum of Arts: Dallas, TX, 1985), 186-87.
  • Erin Pinon, Label text (1938.24), 2016.
  • Wiliam Keyse Rudolph, Label text, 2005.

Web Resources

Everett Spruce, biography
Read more about Everett Franklin Spruce at the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture website.