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Thu, 10.17.1918

Eugene Grigsby, Artist, and Professor born

Eugene Grigsby Jr.

*Eugene Grigsby Jr. was born on this date in 1918. He was a Black artist and educator.

From Charlotte, North Carolina, he received a BA degree from Morehouse College in 1938.  He studied painting, printmaking, and art history (including African art) with Hale Woodruff and sculpture with Nancy Prophet. In 1938 39, he relocated and studied at the American Artist School in New York City.  He made friends and shared a studio with Jacob Lawrence. His friends included Charles Alston, Romare Bearden, and Selma Burke.  He got a master’s in art from Ohio State University and joined the staff at Bethune-Cookman College in Daytona Beach, Fla.

Grigsby served during World War II in the U.S. Army as a master sergeant in the 573rd ammunition company under Gen. George Patton. At the end of World War II, Grigsby wrote, directed, and produced a musical comedy, "Two Points Shy," that toured Third Army units in Europe. After the army, Grigsby and their family moved to Phoenix, where he started the Art Department at Carver High School and taught such students as Rip Woods. The latter became a major artist and professor at Arizona State University. Grigsby became active in the National Art Education Association and served as Vice President of the Pacific Region. After Carver High closed in 1954, Grigsby transferred to Phoenix Union until 1966, when he became a professor at Arizona State University until retirement in 1988.

In 2010, he received the MLK Servant Leadership Award from ASU for his community service and efforts to inspire African Americans and others. His work has been displayed worldwide, including at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Phoenix Art Museum, and the Library of Congress. But Grigsby said he was most proud of being an art educator. Grigsby formed the Consortium of Black Organizations and Others for the Arts, founded Artists of the Black Community/Arizona, and served as president of the Arizona Art Education Association.

In 1943 he married Rosalyn Thomasena Marshall. She was a librarian, a science teacher, a mother, and a civil-rights activist.  In the last ten years, she had Alzheimer’s with Grigsby tended to in their home; she died in 2008.   “His whole focus was to look at art from a cultural perspective of Latinos, Asians, American Indians, and people of Africa and Latin America,” said his son, Jefferson Eugene Grigsby III. “He was a very early adopter of multiculturalism and the influence of culture on the development of human beings.” Eugene Grigsby, Jr died on June 9, 2013.

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