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Joe Duncan Gleason (American, 1881-1959)


Also known as:  Gleason, Duncan

Birth Place: Watsonville (Santa Cruz county, California, United States)

It was boating - and life on the sea, in general - that steered the motley professions and avocations of the California painter Joe Duncan Gleason. Trained at the Chicago Art Institute and the New York Arts Students' League, he illustrated for various magazines, including Leslie's Monthly, Ladies Home Journal, and Forecast, from 1903 to 1914; during this period, while competing as a gymnast in national competitions, he acquired a 36-foot yawl and sailed often on Long Island Sound. Gleason's earliest paintings are Impressionist in style and depict the scenic hills of his childhood Los Angeles as well as the peopled shores of nearby Laguna Beach. A brief return to New York from 1919 to 1924 inspired Gleason to take up marine painting, model shipbuilding, and writing about sailing: he published Windjammers, a book of etchings (1922), followed later by Islands of California (1950). In the mid-1920s, Gleason established his studio in the harbor town of San Pedro, California, and began consulting for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Warner Bros., providing visual guides for the ships that appeared in such films as Yankee Clipper, Captain Blood, and The Charge of the Light Brigade. When not painting or lecturing on historical ships, he was sailing, both with the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary during WW II and recreationally with the California Yacht Club.

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