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John Septimus "Jack" Sears

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John Septimus "Jack" Sears

(1875 - 1969)

John Septimus Sears, more commonly known as Jack Sears, began his art career under the instruction of J. T. Harwood, starting in 1891. He was taught painting and drawing during his three years with Harwood, and won a local competition in 1892 for "best oil painting for those under 18." He continued his education at the Mark Hopkins Art Institute in San Francisco under instructors such as Arthur B. Mathews, William Keith, and others. Following his schooling at Mark Hopkins, he returned to study for another year under Harwood. During this time he worked various side jobs in order to save up money for school in New York. He "sold frog legs to a Salt Lake hotel," sold a "tubful of medals he had won as a cyclist," and played baseball "for money" in his efforts, and it was successful. The next year he was in New York at the Art Students League with Douglas Volk, George DeForest Brush,William M. Chase, and Ernest Knaufft, and worked for William Randolph Hearst's Journal as a cartoonist to make ends meet at school. In 1897 he took his second job as a newspaper cartoonist with the Salt Lake Tribune, working with his colleague and friend, Mahonri Young. He later accepted an out-of-town position as a cartoonist for the Times News and Southern Star in Chattanooga, Tennessee. With the turn of the century, Sears moved back to New York and became a reporter for the news organization Bradstreets. In 1904 he took jobs illustrating for the New York Morning Telegraph and the New York Evening Journal, and studied with Dan McCarthy. Young joined him in New York, and the two took lessons from Robert Henri from 1907-8, after which Sears left to work as a freelance artist for the next ten years. He was involved in several projects during that decade, and Sears also worked for the Democratic National Committee and its GOP equivalent in 1911 and 1912, respectively. In 1914, Sears became involved in illustrating an Elbert Hubbard Story, Pig Pen Pete, and in 1919 went to the University of Utah and became one of three instructors to forward the art department program after Edwin Evans resigned his post as chairman. Sears taught as an art instructor for twenty-four years, departing the school in 1943. During his time there, Sears helped initiate printmaking and illustration/graphic design emphases. Sears has become known for his Cat Drawings and his overall work as a cartoonist, and it is estimated that before him death he completed over 25,000 drawings, sketches, and paintings.

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