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James A. McGrath papers, 1950-2011

James A. McGrath papers, 1950-2011

McGrath, James A., 1928-

Art teacher, Arts administrator

Collection Information

Size: 5.4 linear feet

Summary: The papers of arts educator James A. McGrath measure 5.4 linear feet and date from 1950-2011. Included are McGrath's papers concerning his artist's residencies and workshops for the United States Information Agency (USIA) in the Yemen Republic, Saudi Arabia, and the Republic of the Congo, 1990-1995. Also found are McGrath's papers concerning artist William Wiley. These papers date from Wiley's high school days and includes correspondence, writings, student files, printed materials, photographs, and artwork.

Wiley's high school student files consist of exams and two Columbia High School yearbooks with contributions from Wiley. Correspondence includes mostly letters written from Wiley to McGrath, some of which are illustrated. There are also Christmas cards, postcards, prints, and a wedding invitation and photograph of Wiley and his wife Mary. Wiley writes about his artwork, family, travels, and his mother's death. There are also letters to McGrath from Wiley's first and second wives, Dorothy and Mary, his mother, and artists Robert Rauschenberg and Mark Tobey.

Printed materials include exhibition catalogs and announcements, news and magazine clippings, and the books "Distraction," "Lyrica," and "Almost Old/New Poems," all illustrated by Wiley.

Artwork by Wiley includes block prints, sketches and drawings, poems, paintings, prints, and posters. Photographs are of Wiley's high school yearbook staff, artwork and exhibitions, and a dinner honoring Wiley. There is a signed high school photograph of Wiley and a booklet of photographs of an exhibition of McGrath's art. There are also slides of artwork by Wiley, Bob Hudson, and Bill Allan.

Additional 3.4 linear feet donated 2013-2016 includes 9 photograph albums; teaching material; printed material regarding McGrath's artist's residencies and workshops for the United States Information Agency (USIA) in the Yemen Republic, Saudi Arabia, and the Republic of the Congo, 1990-1995; four works of art on paper by William T. Wiley, 1953-1956 and a drawing with symbols on tree bark for McGrath signed by Wiley 4/28/55; and an oversized illustrated letter from Wiley to McGrath, 1955, when Wiley was a senior in high school and McGrath was teaching for the U.S. Department of Defense in Hanua, Germany. In the letter Wiley writes about his classmates, his scholarship award to the California School of Fine Arts, his term paper on "man's need for expression," and other topics.

Biographical/Historical Note

James A. McGrath (1928- ) is an artist and educator in Santa Fe, New Mexico. McGrath was a high school art teacher at Columbia High School in Richland, Washington, where he taught William T. Wiley.

Provenance

The papers were donated by James A. McGrath in five accessions between 2010-2015. A drawing on tree bark was donated by William T. Wiley in 2016 (McGrath returned the sketch to Wiley at the time of his donation to the Archives in 2015).

Related Materials

The Archives of American Art also holds several collections related to William T. Wiley including an oral history interview conducted by Paul J. Karlstrom, October 8- November 20, 1997 and the William T. Wiley illustrated journals on microfilm reel 910. Additional papers of James A. McGrath located at the University of Washington.

A Finding Aid to the James A. McGrath Papers,
1950-2011
, in the Archives of American Art
AAA.mcgrjame
Biographical Note
Arts educator James A. McGrath was a high school art teacher at Columbia High School in Richland, Washington where he taught William T. Wiley in the mid-1950s. They remained life-long friends. Later, McGrath worked at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe as Director of Arts, Professor of Painting, and Dean. In 1973 he became Director of Arts, Humanities and Culture in the Department of Defense and was stationed in Japan, Korea, Okinawa, Taiwan and the Philippines. He also worked for the United States Information Agency in Yemen, Saudi Arabia and the Republic of the Congo. He continues to be active as an arts education specialist.
William T. Wiley (b. 1937)is a contemporary artist painting and teaching primarily in the San Francisco area. His artwork is associated with the Bay area Funk Movement. Wiley studied at the California School of Fine Arts and completed his MFA in 1962. One year later he joined the faculty of the UC Davis art department along with artists Robert Arneson and Roy DeForest. Wiley's students included Bruce Nauman and Deborah Butterfield.
Wiley's first solo exhibition was held at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 1960, and he had works in the Venice Biennial (1980) and Whitney Biennial (1983), as well as major exhibitions at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum in San Francisco. His artwork is in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, among many others. Wiley was the recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship Award in 2004 and, in 2009, the Smithsonian American Art Museum presented a retrospective exhibition of Wiley's career.
Arrangement
The papers are arranged as 2 series.
Series 1: James A. McGrath Papers Concerning William T. Wiley (Box 1-3, OVs 4-6; 2.0 linear feet)
Series 2: Unprocessed James A. McGrath Papers, circa 1990-1995 (Boxes 7-9, OVs 10-12)
Provenance
The papers were donated by James A. McGrath in five accessions between 2010-2015. A drawing on tree bark was donated by William T. Wiley in 2016 (McGrath returned the sketch to Wiley at the time of his donation to the Archives in 2015).
Processing Information
The collection was processed by Eden Orelove in 2011. The finding aid was updated in 2016 by Erin Kinhart to include the additional personal papers of James A. McGrath.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center.

How to Cite This Collection

James A. McGrath papers, 1950-2011. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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