Homepage | Current Exhibit | Archives | Bodega Bay Heritage Gallery Monthly
California / American School | Printbin
Button Our Artists Button A-B Button C-D Button E-G Button H-He
Button Hi-J Button K-M Button N-P Button Q-S Button T-Z
call or text ... 707-875-2911
Visit the gallery showroom

Grace Allison Griffith
Grace Allison Griffith, 1905, age 20
Sebastopol's "Wizard of Watercolor"
Grace Allison Griffith 1885 - 1955

Grace Allison Griffith is a valued part of Sonoma County's Heritage.

She was a member of the Royal Watercolor Society, Royal Academy of Art in London.

She had a studio in Hawaii in 1919, and was dubbed by an Hawaii art critic, "the Wizard of Watercolor."

She studied with Bohemian Club member, Lorenzo Latimer, and exhibited widely throughout California, England and Scotland, and Hawaii.

She sold her paintings through prestigious galleries of her day, the Claremont Hotel Art Galleries in Berkeley, Gumps in San Francisco, and the Kanst Galleries in Los Angeles.

She studied art Cogswell Polytechnic High School in San Francisco, and knew and studied with many of Northern California's famed artists.

She was the daughter of Sebastopol fruit rancher Nathaniel Griffith who brought the Gravenstein apple to Sebastopol. As a young artist, Alice created paintings of hybrid plants for Santa Rosa's famed horticulturist, Luther Burbank.

The Grace Allison Griffith paintings pictured below are available for sale.
Grace Allison Griffith Show
New Prices
Click the images of each painting below to view larger images, framing and new price information.
Grace Allison Griffith Spring Shower Valley of the Moon Midsized Thumbnail
Spring Shower, Valley of the Moon
Grace Allison Griffith Early Spring Midsized Thumbnail
Early Spring
Grace Allison Griffith Sheep Hills and Eucalyptus Midsized Thumbnail
Sheep, Hills and Eucalyptus
Grace Allison Griffith Meadow Oaks Triptych
Mossy Oaks and Pasture triptych
Grace Allison Griffith Grazing Sheep Sonoma Midsized Thumbnail
Grazing Sheep Sonoma, 1924
Grace Allison Griffith Woodland Path Midsized Thumbnail
Woodland Clearing
Grace Allison Griffith Mossy Oak and Poppies Midsized Thumbnail
Mossy Oaks and Poppies
Grace Allison Griffith Dune Path Midsized Thumbnail
Dune Path, 1913
Grace Allison Griffith Poplars Path and Fence Midsized Thumbnail
Poplars, Path and Fence
Grace Allison Griffith Landscape at Twilight Midsized Thumbnail
Landscape at Twilight
Grace Allison Griffith California Oak and Sheep Midsized Thumbnail
California Oak and Sheep
Grace Allison Griffith Pasture and Eucalyptus Midsized Thumbnail
Pasture and Eucalyptus
Grace Allison Griffith Oak and Stream Midsized Thumbnail
Oak and Stream
Grace Allison Griffith Mossy Oak and Spring Midsized Thumbnail
Mossy Oak and Spring
   
Bodega Bay Heritage Gallery | 1785 Coast Highway One, PO Box 325 Bodega Bay, CA 94923 | 707-875-2911 | Email Us
 

From Bodega Bay Heritage Gallery Musings, February 2020 issue

Sebastopol's own Wizard of Watercolor
Grace Allison Griffith,
1885 - 1955

Grace Allison Griffith connects us with our Sonoma County heritage. Her poetic watercolors of oaks, hills and pastoral landscape celebrated the beauty of Sonoma County over one-hundred years ago. A personal coincidence for us: her gravesite overlooks Graton. CA, and specifically the old apple-drying warehouse where Linda and other local artists have their artist studios - Atelier One.

Grace Allison Griffith
Grace Allison Griffith, 1905, age 20

Grace was a prominent artist of her time. She was invited to become a member of the Royal Academy's Watercolor Society in London, a very high honor for a visiting American artist. In Hawaii, she was dubbed by a local art critic as "the Wizard of Watercolor." In California, she exhibited widely and sold her paintings through the prestigious galleries of her day: the Claremont Hotel Art Galleries in Berkeley, Gumps in San Francisco and the Kanst Galleries in Los Angeles. She and her sister Alice had an art gallery in Petaluma for a while. Even these days, her paintings are in some demand in art auctions, although they do not do as well as the somewhat similar watercolors by Percy Gray.

Her father was pioneer fruit rancher Nathaniel Griffith, whose contribution to Sonoma County was the introduction of the Gravenstein Apple, and who is featured in the permanent exhibit at Sebastopol's museum. Nathaniel was a close friend of Santa Rosa horticulturist Luther Burbank. As a young artist, Grace painted illustrations of hybrid plants for Burbank.

1985, Santa Rosa Post Democrat columnist Gaye Lebaron reported that Grace's watercolor Burbank's Gardens and Burbank's Santa Rosa Greenhouse hung in Santa Rosa's City Hall, and others of her works graced the walls between the City Council Chambers and the City Manager's Office. At that time, prints of Grace's paintings were available at the Burbank Museum gift shop.

Grace was one of three extraordinary daughters born to Ida and Nathaniel Griffith who raised apples on Vine Hill north of Sebastopol. Grace was a painter, Alice was interested in plants and a staunch defender of her family's grove of Redwoods on Vine Hill, and youngest sister Nell was a well known published poet.

Her father brought the flavorful Gravenstein Apple to Sebastopol, and shared a passion for horticulture with his good friend, Luther Burbank. As mentioned above, Grace painted biological illustrations of hybrid plants, required for patent applications.

Nathaniel Griffith Portrait
Nathaniel Griffith Portrait
Portrait of Nathaniel A. Griffith
by Vera Del Sticker, family friend, family collection

Grace furthered her art education at Cogswell Polytechnic High School in San Francisco. In San Francisco, Grace met and learned from many of California's best known painters. After high school, she studied one-on-one with San Francisco artist and Bohemian Club member, Lorenzo Palmer Latimer.

Grace Allison Griffith with her two sisters and parents in Hawaii
Grace's sisters Alice and Nell, her father Nathaniel, mother Ida, and Grace, circa 1910.

In 1919 when Grace was 34 years old, she married Charles B. Allison. While married to Charles, Grace signed her paintings as Grace Allison. That same year, the family house burned down, taking with it many of Grace's early works. It is believed Mr. Allison was in some way connected to the fire, and in short order, the marriage was dissolved.

Grace Allison Griffith, Spreading Oak and Path, family collection
Grace Allison Griffith, Spreading Oak and Path, private collection

Grace Allison Griffith Diamond Head with Fishing Boats
Done by Grace in Hawaii c 1920
Grace Allison Griffith, Diamond Head with Fishing Boats, 1920,
private collection

In Hawaii in 1919 and 1920, Grace and her sister Alice established a studio in Honolulu. Grace achieved some critical success in the islands, showing Hawaiians about daily tasks in their lovely island landscape. At the time, the Hawaiian Islands were a frontier, and they became a popular destination for San Francisco artists. Hawaii was first popularized by the writings of Mark Twain. Adventuring painters soon followed, including Jules Tavernier, Theodore Wores, Hugo Anton Fisher and Grace Hudson.

In San Francisco, Grace would have heard stories of these artists' travels and adventures, stimulating imagination. Although she arrived in Honolulu decades after earlier California painters, she was early enough to see Hawaii long before the tourist deluge after World War II. Grace was in Hawaii 22 years before the attack on Pearl Harbor. The Hawaiian culture and scenery she saw had not yet been replaced by the highrise vacation paradise we see today.

After returning to Sebastopol, Grace's next adventure took her to England and Scotland where she studied, painted, exhibited and sold. She accepted an invitation to become a member of the Royal Watercolor Society, an organization associated with London's Royal Academy of Art, a very high honor for a visiting American artist.

In the 1920's and 1930's, Grace painted in Sebastopol and enjoyed life with her two younger sisters, Alice and Nell.

Her sister Alice was interested in horticulture and was an avid defender of Griffith Woods, a grove of redwoods on her father's ranch. When the bones of a mastodon were discovered there, Alice staunchly refused permission for excavation of the entire skeleton, choosing to defend the grove. The Grove still stands, and the bones remain buried.
Grace Allison Griffith with her niece, Nells Allsion
Grace with her niece, Nell's daughter.

Alice eventually married, at age 75. Her husband, was Jess Ingle, but as Gaye LeBaron wrote, Alice was "nearly 75 and he (Jess) was the same and a widower." LeBaron also reported that. even at that age, Alice wasn't very happy about being "tied down."


North of Sebastopol on Vine Hill is a stand of redwoods on the Griffith fruit ranch
that was, for a time, a popular venue for outdoor weddings. The grove was
staunchly defended by Alice Griffith afer discovery of mastodon bones underneath came with a request
to cut the trees to retrieve the bones. Because of Alice, the trees and bones remain today.

Grace's younger sister Nell may have seemed an ordinary housewife, but was way beyond ordinary as a noted and published poet. She authored five books of poetry and published individual poems in magazines such as Good Housekeeping, Better Homes and Gardens, and Reader's Digest.

Nell's World War II poem, A Blood Donor's Prayer, was reprinted worldwide and was included in Eleanor Roosevelt's syndicated column. One of her books was entitled, Our Valley of the Moon, and included an illustration from her high school classmate, Robert Ripley, of Believe It, or Not fame.

In 1939, at the age of 54, Grace married again, this time to Archibald O. Harris of Berkeley. She and Archie lived in Berkeley for 11 years. When Archie died in 1950, Grace returned to the family farm in Sebastopol. There, she lived with her sister Alice until her passing in 1955. She is buried in the Gilliam Cemetery near Graton. We visted the cemetary and have located Grace's grave and nearby, the graves of her mother Ida and her sister Alice.

From Eleonor Roosevelt's column, Nov 9, 1943

The other day, I was sent by Judge William Denman, of San Francisco, a poem which was published in the San Francisco "Call-Bulletin"

"A BLOOD DONOR'S PRAYER." by Nell Griffith Wilson, Kenwood, CA
Grant me no lesser favor, God, than this
That by my giving
Some war-spent but courageous eager son
May keep on living.
Grant that the faithful rhythm of my veins
And my heart' singing
May bring an urgent quickening, and stay
His soul's far winging.
Because I have no stalwart lad by birth
To call me mother,
I ask this small maternal share in one,
Dear to another.
Then I shall walk a quiet but exalted way
Glad in the knowing
I fed the flame—and for some unknown son
Life is still glowing."

(Mrs. Roosevelt goes on ...) The author is not a well known poetess, but perhaps we may hear more in the future of Mrs. Nell Griffith Wilson of Kenwood, Sonoma County, California. In any case, I think there is many a woman who feels, whether she has a son of her own or not on the fighting front, that she is grateful to have a share in saving other mother's sons.