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Edwin Cook Brewer was a founding member of the Arkansas-based Mid-Southern Watercolorists in 1970 and helped his father, artist Adrian Brewer, organize the Arkansas Art League in the early 1950s.
Edwin Brewer and his twin brother, Adrian, were born on January 9, 1927, in Little Rock (Pulaski County) to Adrian Brewer and Edwina Cook Brewer. The twins had one sister. Brewer received his early art instruction in the studios of his father and his grandfather, Nicholas Richard Brewer, both renowned artists. His grandfather was known as a portrait painter and was represented in multiple exhibitions of the National Academy of Design in New York City beginning in 1885.
Brewer attended Little Rock public schools and Wentworth Military Academy in Lexington, Missouri. He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, first aboard a destroyer and later on a flagship cruiser, the USS Providence. He left the navy in 1946. At age twenty, Brewer went to Sarasota, Florida, and studied with renowned artist Jerry Farnsworth for four years, after which he won a Guggenheim Foundation grant to study at the Institute de Allende in San Miguel, Mexico. In the early 1950s, he and his wife, Maegerine (Maege) Thompson Brewer (whom he had married in 1948) and family moved to Mexico so that he could study art.
Although Brewer pursued creating art as a profession, he also worked as an art teacher and adviser. In the mid-1950s, he taught at the Farnsworth School of Art in Sarasota and at The People’s Art Center in St. Louis, Missouri. He later taught at the Arkansas Arts Center Museum School and Little Rock University (now the University of Arkansas at Little Rock). While serving as art specialist for the Arkansas Department of Education from 1963 to 1971, Brewer wrote A Guide to Art Education in Elementary Schools of Arkansas and An Art Guide for High Schools. He was the curator for the first Arkansas Arts Center Artmobile.
In 1969, Brewer was one of fifty artists chosen by the U.S. Marines to serve as a combat artist in Vietnam. The paintings and lithographs recording his impressions of the Vietnamese people and landscape have been circulated by the Smithsonian Institution’s traveling exhibition service, and the artworks are documented in the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington DC.
Brewer and his artist wife moved to Santa Barbara, California, in the late 1970s to be near their three daughters. Brewer was actively affiliated with the Santa Barbara Art Association and several local galleries, including Gallery 113, the Delphine Gallery, and the Faulkner Gallery in California.
Landscape and still-life were Brewer’s specialties, and he alternated between oils and watercolors. His paintings hang in private and public collections, including the Smithsonian traveling exhibition service, the National Archives in Washington DC, the World’s Fair Offices in New York, and the Central Arkansas Library System’s permanent collection of Arkansas art in Little Rock.
Brewer died of heart failure on December 14, 2002, at Ventura Community Hospital in Ventura, California.
For additional information:Obituary of Edwin Cook Brewer. Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. December 17, 2002, p. 5B.
George, Emmett. “Artist from Arkansas Enjoyed Simple Things.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. December 17, 2002, p. 4B.
Reita Walker MillerLittle Rock, Arkansas
Staff of the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture
Last Updated 2/6/2014
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