Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Their California Years….and The Afterglow

JUSTIN C. GRUELLE, 1889 – 1978
MABEL BROWN GRUELLE, 1887 – 1974

Outline for talk by Bill Smart, Alpine California Historical Society, February 17, 2014

Gruelle Family of Artists, living in their shadows


Richard B. Gruelle (1851 – 1914) Justin’s father and mentor, Hoosier Group of  Painters, 
The Canal – Morning, 1894, Indianapolis Art Museum,

                Author, Notes: Critical & Biographical, Collection of W. T. Walters


Johnny Gruelle (1880 – 1938) Justin’s older brother, creator of Raggedy Ann and Andy books and dolls. Justin added color to early drawings, painted doll faces, illustrated five books after Johnny’s death.

Prudence (Grue) Gruelle Brown (1884 – 1966) Justin’s older sister, author,

Meadow Folks Story Hour, vaudeville circuit, “Singing Cartoonist” 


Justin C. Gruelle (1889 – 1978)  See “Justin C. Gruelle” blogsite, The Indiana, New York and Silvermine, Connecticut Years, Bill Smart’s outline for talk at New Canaan Historical Society, February 26, 2010. 

October 1954, Recently retired and westward bound
Tired of Connecticut snow-bound winters, Mabel and Justin Gruelle drove to  Indianapolis to visit family and friends and on to Sedona, Arizona to visit grandchildren. 
        
               

















November /  December, 1954
They rented an apartment in Altadena, California near international headquarters, The Theosophical Society and Press, Pasadena. Gruelle had earlier been president of their Silvermine  Connecticut lodge.  He created drawings in color, black and white for a children’s book, Once  Round The Sun, painted a portrait of Theosophical Society Leader Colonel Arthur Conger, and  printed a silk-screen image of their headquarters building.


January / June, 1955, Justin’s Early Birds mural moved to California
Gruelle’s history of early aviation mural, commissioned in 1940 by Clarence deGiers, for the lobby of Liquidometer Corporation, Long Island City, NY, was being presented to western headquarters, Institute of Aeronautical Sciences, Los Angeles.   DeGiers asked Gruelle to paint an additional panel for the mural and supervise its    installation. DeGiers and Gruelle had been friends since 1917 when they worked together in the advertising art department of Kelly-Springfield Tire Company, NY.


 June 20, 1955, Unveiling of mural and banquet
 Artist Justin Gruelle and wife Mabel were asked to extend their California visit for recognition at       Fifth International Aeronautical Conference Banquet, Los Angeles.   Executives of aviation-related companies praised his unique artistic and technical skills.

July to December, 1955        
“We went back to Connecticut and sold our Silvermine property.” Mabel's note card.

November 27, 1955, First awareness of Alpine, California
 At a farewell luncheon in New York Bill Smart encouraged his aunt and uncle to investigate Alpine where he had a memorable visit in 1946 after discharge from the U.S. Navy. 




















January 1956, Their Move from Connecticut to Alpine
“We returned to California to find a home. In less than a week we had    decided on this place in Alpine which we love and were moving before the month was out”.  This is the view from the north side of our place and the whole underside is Justin’s studio, workshop and dark room.“                                                                                                                                                                                                   Mabel Brown Gruelle, Christmas card, 1956.


August 2, 1957, two murals, History of Naval Aviation   (Gruelle on the right)
“A pair of 7’ x 12’ murals were hung yesterday in the Institute of Aeronautical Sciences Building at 3380 North Harbor Drive. They depict early days of naval aviation.   They are being displayed as part of the national aviation week meeting here next week. The murals present a graphic picture of old naval aircraft and some of the pioneers. Gruelle painted both of the murals in a little more than six weeks.   He said it usually takes him about six months to paint murals of this size.”                                                                                                                          San Diego Evening Tribune
          
Building was later closed, murals moved to an unknown location, probably in California?


1957, The Mythology and History of Flight , sketches for proposed Air and Space Museum murals  
Executives of west coast aviation manufacturing companies were impressed with  Gruelle’s technical and artistic skills in creating the Early Birds and History of Naval Aviation  murals. They encouraged him to do research on the mythology and history of flight and  create designs for decorative mural panels for a proposed National Air and Space Museum, for Washington, DC or on the West Coast. Gruelle did extensive historical research and created pencil and chalk sketches for five mural panels for the proposed museum. 

August 29, 1958, portrait of Major Rueben H. Fleet unveiled
In May, 1918 Major Fleet was the first pilot to fly U.S. mail by air, from New York to Washington, DC. Gruelle’s portrait of Convair Corporation CEO was on view at Rueben H. Fleet Aeronautical Library, Institute of Aeronautical Sciences branch, North Harbor Drive, San Diego. When the San Diego building was closed, the painting was moved to San Diego Air and Space Museum, Balboa Park. 


1959, Stations of the Cross Paintings for Queen of Angels Catholic Church, Alpine
Justin Gruelle had strong religious and spiritual beliefs. Although not Roman Catholic, he and the local priest became good friends and had long discussions about how artists through the ages had interpreted Jesus Christ, his life, death and   resurrection. Gruelle painted near-life-size images of his version of the 14 stations of the cross as his contribution to the new community church. The priest contributed masonite  panels and paint. Family members and locals served as models.    


















June 4, 1961, El Cajon Valley News                 
 These paintings picturing scenes in the life of Jesus have a depth of intensity and color not seen in the painter’s other work. They go from light to darkness and back again; they have no beginning and no end; they are limitless in time and space. This is beauty balanced with the quality of creation."     

Of all Gruelles self-termedimpersonal record keeping this is probably the portion of his work that will be remembered longest. It is his only venture into the field of religious art.                                                                                                                                      Jean Hedger 


1960 / 1965, serigraph / silk-screen printing, Mabel and Justin Gruelle cottage industry
Greeting note cards with views of Alpine include 2 views of Catholic Church, 2 of Community Church, downtown Alpine, Women’s Club and Victoria Rock. San Diego views include Balboa Park, Father Junipero Serra Mission Museum and his statue.

April, 1960, Annual La Mesa Foothills Art Association Membership Show
Justin Gruelle won first prize for a portrait painting.

June 12, 1960, Tea honoring Gruelle at La Mesa Fine Arts Center
The artist s work now on display includes landscapes and winter scenes painted near his former home in Connecticut and in mountain country near Alpine.  Watercolors, oils, and pastels are his media. Portraits are shown in the one man show and a self portrait is included.


May 10, 1967,  Letter from Justin Gruelle to Bill Smart
“In the last letter from Dr. Paul Garber (Assistant Director,  Smithsonian   National Air and Space Museum, Washington) he spoke of future decorations for the new Washington Air and Space Museum building. He mentioned the series of pencil sketches and research that I had done on the history of flight in 1957, which he liked extremely well.”

Gruelle’s original research and detailed pencil and chalk sketches were sent to the Smithsonian and their receipt was acknowledged. They were never used, never returned and there is no record that they existed. Photo copies and notes survived.

May 12th, 1970,  Gruelle's  Early Birds mural added to collection of Smithsonian National Air and Space  Museum, Washington  DC. Rolled-up canvas shipped by  Railway Express from California to DC.
“The transfer of ownership of the “Early Birds” panel has finally taken place and the        
painting is now in the National Air and Space Museum at the Smithsonian. That a piece of  Gruelle family ‘handiwork should become a part of the Smithsonian collection  is a pleasant thought."                                                                                                                                                                                                          Justin Gruelle

December 10, 1970, Letter from   E. W. Robischon, National Air and Space Museum
“At long last we have finished the restoration of your mural and placed it on display in   the National Air and Space Museum. The photograph is taken from a position under  Lindberg’s airplane while the Wright Flyer is suspended ahead of Lindbergh’s airplane and to the right. The Early Bird mural is therefore in the most prominent spot of the museum.”               

December 31, 1970,  Justin Gruelle letter to Bill Smart                  
“The Early Bird organization held their yearly reunion in Washington this year and a number of group pictures were taken in front of our “brain child.” We feel that all this is a  nice New Year’s present given to us.”                                                                                

September 16, 1971, Justin Gruelle Letter to E.W. Robischon, Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
I have your letter with its thought of me doing some future panels to go along with the Early Bird painting. My physical capacity and artistic expertness for doing a   serious mural painting is no longer with me. What a wonderful project this would have been if I were twenty years younger! But I fear old father Time can’t lesson my eighty two years.”                                                       

1971 Removal of Mural to Storage                               
 After its 1970  - 1971 exhibition at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, the Early Birds mural was placed in storage awaiting Congressional appropriations to  construct a new Air and Space Museum on the Mall.

Grand Opening of new Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Washington
When it opened in 1975 the Early Birds mural was not on display. It had disappeared from sight and from their records. Repeated inquiries in person and in   correspondence confirmed that there was no record of its existence in the current museum collection or archives and no record of what had happened to it. 

1971, Sale of Liquidometer Corporation business and buildings in New York and Vermont
No information was available to Gruelle as to disposition of his three remaining   1940’s American Scientists and Inventors murals in the lobby of Liquidometer Corporation, Long Island City, New York.  An 18’ x 7’  photo copy of the Early Birds panel had replaced the  original canvas when removed in 1955. There was no information on the four 1950’s  landscape murals in Liquidometer’s manufacturing facility in Bellows Falls, Vermont.        

1974, Gruelle’s 8 Works Progress Administration 1936 – 1938 murals in schools and libraries of Norwalk, Connecticut  moved  to storage
Six Mark Twain murals, Aladdin and his lamp and Chinese Nightingale murals  awaiting funds for conservation, restoration and relocation.
               
1975, Little Red School House, New Canaan, CT closed.  Five WPA murals out-of-sight
Future disposition of Gruelle’s five Aesop’s Fables 1936 WPA murals in question.

1975,  Aristotle  Quotation WPA Mural in New Canaan High School Library
Removed for possible restoration and placement in a new building addition.

God’s Acre Mural, New Canaan Green, 25’ x 8’ 7”
Commissioned in 1952 by Union Trust Bank, later First Union Bank, and then a restaurant. Plans announced to close the bank, to be occupied by a restaurant, with removal of mural with unknown future.     


 May 1974, Death of Mabel Brown Gruelle in Alpine
Her hand-painted china is on view in museums and private collections.   Cremains interred in Gruelle Family plot, Crown Hill Cemetery, Indianapolis, Indiana, no marker.


January 2 – 3, 1978,   Final Visit with Justin in San Diego,  living near daughter Jayne                      
Smart had called from New York during the 1977 holidays to wish his uncle good health in the new year. Gruelle said that he would be reaching his 89h year in July, and added, “It will soon be time to pass-over.” Smart made an immediate air reservation to fly to California.
           
On January 2nd, 1978 they drove through Old Town to see the Mission and statue of Father Juniperro Sierra drawn on Gruelle’s silk-screen. Later he signed print 52 of the San Diego mission , “For Bill, With deep affection.”They visited San Diego  Air and Space Museum in Balboa Park to view the Major Fleet portrait. They drove along the Pacific Ocean and watched the lingering afterglow of colors from a beautiful sunset as the sky changed to reveal a galaxy of stars in the universe beyond.

Gruelle showed Smart his archival scrapbooks with photos, clippings and   recollections of a lifetime of creative works. Gruelle was disappointed that so many of  his murals and other works were “lost” or no longer on view. He emphasized his satisfaction that he had the vision and the pleasure of creating them. Smart  promised his uncle that he would make every effort to continue to search for his favorite Early Birds mural and other “presumed lost” art works. 


Before Smart left for NY Gruelle presented him with his last canvas, painted from his workshop / studio in Alpine, “Shadows in the Valley”  with mountain views.


February 22, 1978, Major Fleet Portrait destroyed in museum fire
Gruelle was saddened to learn that his prized portrait painting was “lost” in a devastating fire at San Diego Air and Space Museum in Balboa Park.

April 20, 1978, Death of Justin C. Gruelle in San Diego.
His cremains are interred with no marker at Crown Hill Cemetery, Indianapolis, Indiana in the Gruelle family plot next to his wife, Mabel and parents, Alice and Richard B. Gruelle.

AFTERGLOW: The Legacy Continues


1995, Early Birds mural, lost from view for 25 years, discovered at Dorchester  County Museum, Cambridge, MD by nephew Bill Smart and wife Diane.
It had  been de-accessed from the National Air and Space Museum  Collection and was located high on a wall of an old airplane hangar on the former Francis DuPont estate, now property of the University of Maryland.

2002, Early Birds presented to Smart
After several visits to photograph the mural President Dale Price and his Museum Board offered to give the mural to Smart in order to find an appropriate and more permanent home before the final closing of the museum. Smart contacted several museums. Indiana Historical  Society, Bruce Johnson, VP, agreed to pay for removal and shipping to Indianapolis for December 2003 exhibit of The First 100 Years of Flight.        
2003, exhibition at Indiana Historical Society, Indianapolis.

Exhibited in lobby during 100th anniversary celebration of Wright Brothers’ first flight, (Wilbur had been born in Indiana). It then went back to storage awaiting results of a fund raising campaign. cover story, Traces  magazine, Spring, 2003. Article had widespread distribution on internet.

McGaw Foundation, Seattle. WA requested IHS to loan or sell mural   for exhibition at Museum of Flight, Seattle. Smart agreed to transfer.

2006, extensive conservation and restoration at Indianapolis Museum, paid for by McGaw Foundation with shipment to Seattle.

November 2007,  permanently installed at Museum of Flight in Seattle
History of Aviation Gallery, Boeing Red Barn Wing.

1998  Justin Gruelle’s  archival scrapbooks viewed again by Smart 20 years later
Justin’s daughter, Jayne Gruelle Comerford, Bandon, Oregon   presented scrapbooks to her cousin to add to his JCG archives and collections. “You will know what to do with these.”

2001, Eight Justin Gruelle W.P.A. murals.
Restored and exhibited in Norwalk, CT City Hall Gallery and libraries.

2009, -  2010  New Canaan, Connecticut Historical Society Galleries.
Exhibit of Justin C. Gruelle and family art . Bill Smart invited to speak about the Silvermine years of the family. See previous blog entry.


80th Anniversary edition, A Mother Goose Parade,  written /  illustrated by JCG.
Facsimilie edition of original 1929 P. F. Volland Company children’s book published for distribution during New Canaan Historical Exhibit, September, 2009 until February, 2010. Gruelle’s original pencil drawings with color were on loan from Baldwin Library of Children’s Literature Collection, University of Florida, Gainesville. Books available from museum book stores or from nephew Bill Smart, pwmsmart@gmail.com

December, 2011, Donation of Diane and Bill Smart Collection of Justin Gruelle’s             Connecticut  paintings, illustrations  and silk screen prints to City of  Norwalk, Connecticut.
Now on exhibit in City Hall Galleries alongside Gruelle’s W.P. A. murals. See “Norwalk Thanks Bill Smart” interview, December 17, 2011                                       Justin C. Gruelle blogsite.           

2013, GRUELLE’S 25’ x 8’ mural of New Canaan Village Green,
Painted in 1952 for a New Canaan bank. Had been removed when  property sold and stored  at New Canaan Historical Society. Now restored and permanently installed at New Canaan High School.

Igor Sikorsky and the invention of his helicopter

Giant telescopes on Mount Palomar and the electronic microscope

American scientists and inventors
August 5, 2013,  Re-discovery of 3 of Gruelle’s Liquidometer 1940s  “lost” murals in New  York  State by Bill Smart and daughter Anita.
                  
Igor Sikorsky and his invention of the Helicopter, Telescope on Palomar  Mountain and Electron Microscope, and American Inventors and Scientists. Awaiting decision of current owners of building purchased from Liquidometer in 1971 as to their future. A new entrance lobby had been opened on an adjacent street. Original lobby stairwell with four large murals functions as an interior stairwell, poorly lighted, between 3 floors of the building. Still missing are four Liqidometer landscape murals originally installed in their manufacturing plant in Bellows Falls, Vermont, believed to have been given to employees when building was sold in 1971.

February 17, 2014, Alpine Historical Society, California
Bill Smart was invited to talk, with power-point presentation, about later works of Justin and Mabel Gruelle during their California years, 1955 -1978.  It was a follow-up to Smart’s February, 2010 talk to New Canaan Historical Society about Gruelle’s Silvermine Years that ended in 1955 with   their move to California.

There are still lost pieces and the search for other works continues…  

for more information, contact Bill Smart at pwmsmart@gmail.com

Friday, October 22, 2010

JUSTIN C. GRUELLE, 1889 - 1978

Justin C. Gruelle was born in Indianapolis, July 1, 1889, the son of Alice Benton and Hoosier Group Painter, Richard B. Gruelle. The aspiring young artist painted portraits and landscapes with encouragement from his father and older brother Johnny, creator of Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy.  Justin received formal training in drawing, painting and photography at John Herron Art Institute and The New York Art Student's League. 

Between 1910 and 1955 the professional art career of Justin Gruelle centered around New York City where he was known for his detailed landscape paintings and colorful illustrations of products for advertising, magazine covers, movie posters, sheet music and books.  He was commissioned to create family portraits, and eventually large corporate murals that combined his many talents.  Justin's book Mother Goose Parade with fanciful illustrations was published in 1929 to great reviews. His home / studio was in Silvermine, the artist's colony along the river between Norwalk, New Canaan and Wilton Connecticut, where earlier he, his father and brother had been part of The Knockers, an artist's group that was the precursor of the Silvermine Guild of Art.

During the great economic depression Gruelle was commissioned to research and paint fourteen murals for the Federal Art Project of the WPA, Works Progress Administration, between 1935 and 1940. Six of these large murals are displayed outside the Mayor's office at Norwalk City Hall. One of his triptychs can be seen in the Norwalk Art Museum and another at Norwalk Public Library. There are five Gruelle WPA paintings in the Little Red Schoolhouse Museum, New Canaan Historical Society, and one large mural with twenty-four portraits in the library of New Canaan High School.

Wide acclaim for his large WPA paintings led to commissions for Gruelle to research and paint eight large murals for The Liquidometer Corporation, Long Island City, between 1940 and 1954.  The Early Birds, an 18' x 7' oil painting on canvas, features seventeen portraits of aviation pioneers including the Wright Brothers and over twenty early aircraft against a visualized background of how the earth might someday appear from outer space. The painting was formerly in the collection of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Washington, D.C.  After a three year exhibition at The Indiana Historical Society it has now been permanently installed at The Museum of Flight, Seattle, Washington.

In 1955 Gruelle and his wife Mabel moved to Alpine California in the mountains east of San Diego. They designed and printed a collection of silk screen prints and note cards to reveal the beauty of their new home town. Justin was fascinated with nature and created a series of oil paintings to capture the ever changing effect of light and shadows on the mountain landscape. Gruelle, a theosophist, created fourteen large paintings depicting The Way of the Cross for the new Queen of Angels Roman Catholic Church, his contribution to their Alpine community in 1959.

He died on April 20th, 1978; his ashes are interred in the Gruelle family plot at Crown Hill Cemetery, Indianapolis.

Paul William Smart, May 1, 2009 Ask/ART http://www.askart.com/askart/g/justin_c_gruelle.aspx



JUSTIN C. GRUELLE, 1889 -1978

JUSTIN  C.  GRUELLE, 1889 -1978                                 


His Early Years         


July 1, 1889                
            Justin C. Gruelle was born in Indianapolis, the youngest child of Alice Benton and esteemed Hoosier Group Artist Richard B. Gruelle
            At an early age, I began to experiment with my father’s paints, canvas and brushes. This must have been a great nuisance for him, but I can't recall him ever complaining about this misuse of his precious art supplies.
            In addition to being taught the basics of painting in oil by his father, Justin learned drawing techniques from older sister, Prudence and brother, John, both successful illustrators and cartoonists.
            Justin attended Public School #15 and graduated from Arsenal Technical High School at age seventeen.    
1906 - 1907, The Gruelle Family’s Move to New York City
            Although not considered a permanent move Mr. and Mrs. Gruelle rented their Tacoma Avenue home for one year and moved to New York City so that Justin could experience the art world and Prudy could study music.


John and Myrtle had married and were living in Cleveland at the time of our move to the east coast. He was sport and political cartoonist for The Cleveland Press.
I can only conjecture as to why this move to New York was made. I believe that R.B.G. felt the need of a little artistic rejuvenation and that he realized a visit to Manhattan, with its art galleries and museums would contribute to my aesthetic development. For by this time, it was quite evident that I was going to follow the family tradition and become an artist. My father and I haunted the art galleries and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, uptown in Central Park.
Prudence had been taking vocal lessons for several years and no doubt our parents felt that New York would stimulate her future progress in music.
                   
            The family occupied the spacious sky-lighted apartment and studio in a four-story walk-up building on 23rd Street, just west of Sixth Avenue, Manhattan.
           
            One of our neighbors who had a studio near us on Twenty-Third Street was Addison T. Millar. He was a native of Ohio and was an excellent painter and etcher. The Millars and Gruelles became good friends.
            The Millars bought some acreage in Silvermine, Connecticut and built a studio home there. It was through them that we heard of this beautiful area, forty five miles north of Manhattan.

1908,  Return to Indianapolis
The Gruelle Family returned to Indianapolis to enable Justin to have more formal training in photography and classes with Hoosier Group Artists Otto Stark and William Forsyth at The John Herron Art Institute, now part of Indiana University.
           
            My most interesting activity in Indianapolis during the next year was the months spent in William Forsyth's life drawing class at the John Herron Art Institute. Forsyth, while primarily a landscape painter, was a fine instructor in drawing from life, and it was a valuable experience.

1909 – 1910 school year in New York         
I spent the winter of 1909 again in New York and entered George Bridgeman’s life drawing class at The Art Students’ League. Bridgeman was a superb teacher and one of the best that the country has produced. Those months were invaluable to me.
Among the Hoosier artists living and studying in New York at the time was Albert Matzke, an early student of R.B.G. He later married Prudence and became one of the family. Albert had great artistic talent as a boy, and my Father had encouraged him to develop this latent ability. Albert spent several years studying at the Art Students League and later became an instructor at that venerable art institution.

JUSTIN’S SILVERMINE  YEARS,  1910 – 1956


Mr. Millar told us of some land next to his property in Silvermine that was for sale. Albert, Prudence and I went up to Connecticut the next weekend to inspect the place. Folks used their legs to get from one spot to the next. The old Blanchard mill was several miles from the end of the Winnepauk trolley and the long walk from there was expected and enjoyed. We were delighted with its possibilities, so in 1910, the Gruelle Family became the owners of this old New England home, mill and sixteen acres.
The one hundred year old house was typically New England with its small rooms and low ceilings, altogether a quaint and lovely place with a kitchen extension and storage shed. A narrow stairway led to the upper floor where there were three small bedrooms. The sixteen acres, on both side of the river were wooded with fine old trees.
Across the road from the house was the old Blanchard Furrier Mill, a substantial building of two stories plus the basement room. This contained the water turbine. A small steam plant was located on the right side in an extension to the building. We used the upper rooms as studios for R.B. G., Albert and myself.
The windows of the back rooms overlooked the mill pond and water fall. There was always the lovely sound of running water. At the end of the road was the crossroad to New Canaan on the left, and to Wilton on the right, over a small bridge.



July 1 to 4th, 1910
The Gruelle Family and friends of Justin C.Gruelle celebrated his twenty-first birthday with a picnic, swimming, fishing and fireworks at their newly purchased home and art studios along the Silvermine River. Johnny and Myrtle came from Cleveland for a vacation visit and later decided to move to Silvermine. They lived in the old mill studios while their new home was being built along the pond above the Wilton Road Bridge, where Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy were created.
1910-1917, "The Knockers at Silvermine
Justin, his father R.B.G. and later Johnny were part of a group of painters living and working in Silvermine, known as "The Knockers".  They gathered for weekly critiques of each other's work and held annual exhibitions, the precursor of The Silvermine Guild of Artists.

At Mr. Borglum’s studio each Sunday morning artists of the colony meet, bringing work of the week for mutual criticism. An annual exhibition attracts many visitors from neighboring cities.
In the last exhibit Mr. Gruelle’s youngest son, Justin Gruelle, had the honor of the first sale. His painting, “The Old Homestead,” was highly praised, and a great future is predicted for him as a landscape painter.                 
         The Indianapolis Star. March 6, 1911
1913, Mr. and Mrs. Richard B. Gruelle returned to their Indianapolis home.
           Following a stroke R. B. Gruelle died in November, 1914 at age 63
1917, Justin married Mabel Claire Brown, Indianapolis, Indiana
She studied art and graduated from Manual Training High School. She studied china painting and taught classes in Indianapolis, New York, and Norwalk, Connecticut.

1917 – 1926, Kelly Springfield Tire Company, Manhattan
Justin was an illustrator in the art department, doing magazine covers, posters and is known for a series of full page advertising illustrations used in Broadway Theater Playbills. The head of the art department was Clarence deGeirs, who later commissioned Justin to do eight murals for his Liquidometer Company.

1924    Daughter Jayne Hildegard born in New York City



1924 - 1925 Dream home / studio
Justin and his wife, Mabel designed and built their dream home / studio on Yew Lane Seir Hill overlooking Silvermine valley, where they  continued the annual July 4th picnic gathering of family and friends.
1927, son John Paul Gruelle born
           He studied photography and worked as a career baker with Pepperidge Farms.
1929, A Mother Goose Parade
This children's book was written and illustrated by Justin C. Gruelle, and published in 1929 by The P.F. Volland Company, Joliet, Illinois. The frontispiece illustration shows his wife Mabel, son John Paul and Jayne Hildegard holding a Raggedy Ann doll in front of their Yew Lane home with Mother Goose looking on. The book was well reviewed but never had a second edition because the company went out of business during The Great Depression.
            Original pencil drawings have been preserved at The Baldwin Library of Historical Children’s Literature, University of Florida, Gainesville. An 80th Anniversary facsimile edition has been published by the family to accompany The Gruelle Family Art Exhibit at The New Canaan Historical Society.
1932, Theosophical Society
            Justin and Mabel were students of Theosophy and Justin served as President of the Silvermine Lodge and Mabel taught instruction classes.
1933, Winter in Miami
Justin and Mabel and their children, along with Mrs. Gruelle, spent the winter with brother Johnny and Myrtle at their home on Miami Beach. Justin painted water colors, oils, a self portrait and an exceptional portrait of his mother with hand carved frame.
1934 -1936, Connecticut WPA Artist
Five large Mark Twain murals were painted in 1935 - 1936 under the auspices of The Federal Art Project of the Works Progress Administration for Norwalk public schools. They have been restored and are prominently displayed in the Norwalk City Hall lobby, as part of the nation's largest collection of WPA murals.
When the Great Depression struck the country in 1933 and the W.P.A. was established, I did three mural projects for the art section. The Aladdin and the Lamp painting was placed in the Children’s Room of the South Norwalk Library. The Chinese Nightingale triptych is in The Norwalk Public Library.

1936 New Canaan Schools
A large oil panel, 19’ x 4’, is on the wall of The Wagner Room of the New Canaan High School. It has twenty-one portraits of historic figures surrounding a teacher image and two students with the quotation from Aristotle, “All Who Have Meditated On The Art of Governing Mankind Have Been Convinced That The Fate of Empires Depends on Education of Youth.”
Five Aesop’s Fables were painted for the walls of the historic Little Red School. They have been restored and on view at New Canaan Historical Society.
Shortly after they were finished, my own art work picked up again and I was able to get off the government project.
1938, Death of older brother, Johnny
 Justin was hired by the publisher to illustrate five unpublished Raggedy Ann and Andy manuscripts, Raggedy Ann and the Golden Butterfly, Raggedy Ann and Betsy Bonnet String, Raggedy Ann in the Snow White Castle, Raggedy Ann’s Picture Book and Raggedy Ann and Mr. Hoppy Toad.
1939 - 1940 New York World's Fair
                In collaboration with New York celebrity artist Clara Fargo Thomas Justin helped paint three major murals for the U.S. Steel Corporation, IBM and Westinghouse Pavilions. He also collaborated with her in a large sailing ship mural for her home on Mount Desert Island, Maine.
1940, Lobby Murals for The Liquidometer Corporation
Clarence A. deGiers, President of The Liquidometer Corporation, Justin’s former boss at Kelly Springfield Tire Company, commissioned him to paint four large murals for the lobby of his Long Island City headquarters and four smaller murals for their manufacturing plant in Bellows Falls, Vermont. Only one of the eight is known to exist.
The Early Birds
This 18 feet x 7 feet mural on canvas has seventeen life-size portraits of some of the men who made aviation history and their aircraft. In the Spring of 1955 the canvas was removed from the lobby wall, replaced with a photomural and presented to the Western Headquarters of IAS, Institute of the Aeronautical Sciences, Los Angeles, later moved to San Diego.
 In November 1969 The Early Birds was presented to the National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. A letter from Mr. Robischon to Justin Gruelle stated, "The mural has finally come to its permanent resting place of honor beneath Lindberg's Spirit of St. Louis."

1970  to 1995, Out of Sight and Presumed Lost
When the National Air and Space Museum moved into its new building the mural, mainly because of its size, did not fit into any present or future exhibition plan nor any available storage facility. The Early Birds mural was loaned to Dorchester County Heritage Museum, Cambridge, Maryland and deaccessed to them in 1980. In 1995 its location in an airplane hangar was discovered by nephew Bill Smart. The mural was presented to him to find a permanent home, and is now installed at The Museum of Flight, Seattle, Washington.
Late 1940's to mid fifties
Justin worked in the art department of R.K.O. Pictures (United Artists) and Walt Disney Productions and commuted by train into Manhattan from South Norwalk. He Illustrated movie posters and cartoon stills. He painted a series of historical corporate portraits for Barnes and Nobel Book Company and had many other commissions for portraits from his Silvermne studio.
Mabel Brown Gruelle was a creative painter of sets of dinner china and taught china painting classes with her own kiln for use of her students. The Gruelles created a series of silkscreen Christmas and note cards and continued living and working in their Silvermine studio/home until 1956.


1955-56
Part of the winter was spent near Sedona, Arizona, and Altadena, California, where Justin added new sections to The Early Bird mural and illustrated children’s books for the Theosophical Press.

1956  Sale of Silvermine Home and Move to California
Justin had painted a 6’ by 9 ½’ wall map of the historic Silvermine area surrounding their home mounted above the fireplace in their large living room studio with twelve foot ceiling. When the house was sold they left the mural for the new owners who later presented it to The Norwalk Art Museum. It is now permanently installed in the conference room and is used to illustrate talks about the history and development of Norwalk for tour groups.

His California Years. 1956 – 1978, Alpine, California

Mabel and Justin established their west coast studio/home on Lilac Lane, Alpine, CA, with majestic views of mountain valleys. Justin died in 1978, pre-deceased by Mabel. Their cremated ashes are interred at Crown Hill Cemetery, Indianapolis, in the Gruelle Family plot.

Outline for a presentation on February 26, 2010 at New Canaan CT Historical Society
during the Gruelle Family art exhibit