Forrest Wayne Flower (1912 - 1948)

Birth date: 1912 Death date: 1948  
Birth location: Portage, Wisconsin Death location: Wauwatosa, Wisconsin  
Media: Mural , Painter / Watercolor , Painting Web site:
Fair (file rating) - MWA artist file may include basic data, and additional newspaper articles, book references, exhibition information, and images that can be researched on site at MWA.


Forrest Flower
Born 1912 in Portage, WI
Died 1948 in Wauwatosa, WI
Frail and one of eight in his family, Forrest Flower won several scholarships to attend the Layton School of Art after graduating from Portage High School. At Layton he studied under Gerrit Sinclair and Charlotte Partridge, who remarked upon his early death at age 36, “Forrest Flower’s influence on the art of Wisconsin is real and enduring. He struggled unceasingly to learn the craft of painting. He was a slow painter, seldom satisfied because his goal was high.”
Despite the slow pace, Flower was prolific and determined, frequently neglecting to eat or sleep. After graduating from Layton in 1934, Flower’s first assignment as a Depression-era WPA (Works Progress Administration) artist was to document activity in a Civilian Conservation Camp in Upper Michigan. Back in Wisconsin he chose dramatic incidents in state history for murals in the Viroqua and Rice Lake post offices (War Party and Rural Delivery respectively). His painting, Indian Stealing Horses in the Black Hawk War, won a high prize in the Gimbel show at the Centennial Exposition and was reproduced in an issue of Life magazine.
Flower later taught at the Layton School of Art and lived in “Studio Row,” an artists’ colony located by the river in downtown Milwaukee. He painted many portraits on commission for individuals and organizations but his later work reflected an interest in surrealism: he was said to be so engrossed in these final projects that he had neither the time nor strength to work on portrait commissions. Upon his death, Gimbels Department Store created a fellowship in his name for a 1949 graduate of the Layton School of Art.

Selected Group Exhibitions

1935-   1936 Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
1936  Layton Gallery of Art, Milwaukee, WI 
1936  First National Exhibition of American Art, Rockefeller Center, New York 
1936 Layton Gallery of Art, Milwaukee, WI 
1940  Milwaukee Galleries, WI 
1940  Paintings by the Square Inch, Layton Gallery of Art, Milwaukee, WI 
1943  Thirtieth Annual Exhibition of Wisconsin Art, The Milwaukee Art Institute, WI 
1945 Layton Gallery of Art, Milwaukee, WI
1949 Layton Gallery of Art, Milwaukee, WI
1974 Milwaukee Paintings of the 1920’s and 1930’s, Charles Allis Museum, Milwaukee, WI
WPA Watercolors in the Permanent Collection, Wustum Museum, Racine, WI
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