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Jack Sears
Artist, Author, Educator
by D.G. Jones © 2001

“Give a child a goodly supply of wholesome, enchanting stories . . .
replete with fascinating pictures, and his joys are complete.”

-- Thunder Cave Publishers, 1932,
Thunder Cave Corporation, John S. Sears, president

Jack Sears: Artist, Author, Educator
Extract from the "Biographical Note", Thunder Cave Millennium EditionTM,
by D.G. Jones © 2001. Featured in the Utah Spirit magazine, July 1, 2005 issue:
"Thundering Back to the Past", article by Jan Hopkins of ClipperToday.

. . . Artist John Septimus Sears, known as "Jack," was born February 20, 1875, in Salt Lake City, Utah, to Septimus Wagstaff and Mary Ann [Needham] Sears. (27) On June 18, 1903, he married Florence A. Scholes in Salt Lake City. (28) They had one child . . . (29)

A partial chronicle of Sears' long and productive career is contained in the "Publisher's Note". More could be said. As a young man, he sold frog legs to a Salt Lake hotel as part of his effort to earn money for art school in the East (one imagines him wearing overalls, frequenting local ponds and creeks at sunrise of a morning). . . Sears was continually sketching -- from "life" whenever possible -- often in "a great hurry, using materials quickly marshaled." (32) On drawing from life he wrote, "One never receives the same thrill in copying another's work as he does in creating." (33)

From 1891-93 and 1895-96 Sears "studied Art under J.T. Harwood, one of the first Utah artists to study in Paris." (34) He also studied at the Mark Hopkins Art Institute in San Francisco before the turn of the century.

In 1896 Sears followed his dream to New York, where he was in the Art Students League. He paid for art lessons with on-the-job training, working "as a 'joke drawing' artist" for New York syndicate newspapers. (35) Ultimately, he studied in New York under a number of eminent artists.

In 1897 Sears took his second newspaper job, this time with the Deseret News. The following year he began working for the Salt Lake Tribune. These jobs would continue, on and off, for years. At the Tribune, he worked with fellow-artist and sculptor Mahonri Mackintosh Young (1877-1957), (36) . . . Jack Sears and "Hon" Young became lifelong friends . . . (38)

It is interesting that Sears spent a year working for newspapers in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where Stokes would later earn his L.L.B. degree. Then he again studied art in New York, caught up in the excitement of "social realism." Finally, Sears came back to his native state, where he took a position as instructor of art at the University of Utah . . . During his 24-year tenure at the "U" (1919-1943), Sears founded and organized the commercial art department, and received an award from the Utah Art Educators Association. (40)

In addition to . . . works of art in various media . . . , Sears wrote and illustrated two books: The Diary of a Cat (1934; fiction), and Cat Drawings (1943; autobiographical non-fiction) . . . (41)

Sears, the educator, also taught art in his home studio. But students didn't come there only for art instruction. His lessons were life lessons. "Intelligent sketching," he wrote, makes a person "a better judge of when to stop" (43) . . .

Although Stokes' senior by two years, Jack Sears outlived him by fourteen, dying at the age of 94 on June 6, 1969, in Salt Lake City, Utah. He had been "one of the oldest former employees of both the Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret News." (45) Sears is buried at Salt Lake City Cemetery beside his wife Florence, who died ten years earlier. (46)

Through his advice in Cat Drawings and in the "Publisher's Note" to Thunder Cave, Sears shows a dedication similar to that of Stokes, both seeking to enrich and strengthen the lives of children and youths -- Stokes through words, Sears through art, and both through interaction with the young . . .

© 2001 by D.G. Jones.

  |   Read how Jeremiah Stokes met Jack Sears   |  
  |   Order book (contains complete six-page "Biographical Note")   |  
  |   "The Optimist" Art Card by Jack Sears   |   About Jeremiah Stokes   |  


'The Optimist' art by Jack Sears

View "The Optimist" Art Card by Jack Sears with sentiment by Beverly Gray [Jeremiah Stokes]. *   |   Card front   |   Card back   |   Story   |  
(Transcription forthcoming.)

Extract from the "Biographical Note" by D.G. Jones © 2001
(from the introductory pages to the Millennium EditionTM)
Book contains complete six-page "Biographical Note"

27. "John S. Sears, U. Artist, Ex-Newsman, 94, Dies," Salt Lake Tribune, Sunday, June 8, 1969.

28. Ibid.

29. Salt Lake City Cemetery records.
. . .

32. Cat Drawings, Salt Lake City: printed by Stevens & Wallis, 1943, 2.

33. Ibid., 15.

34. Thomas Toone, "Mahonri Young: Sculptor of His Heritage," Ensign, Oct. 1985, 41. See also Dictionary of Utah Art, 220-221.

35. Dictionary of Utah Art, 220

36. Peggy Sears, phone conversation, April, 2001. See also Dictionary of Art, 220-222 and Thomas Toone, "Mahonri Young: Sculptor of His Heritage," Ensign, Oct. 1985, 41.
. . .

38. Salt Lake Tribune, June 8, 1969, and Peggy Sears, conversations. See also Dictionary of Utah Art, 221-222, and Toone, "Mahonri Young," Ensign, Oct. 1985.
. . .

40. Dictionary of Utah Art, 221.

41. Cat Drawings, Salt Lake City: printed by Stevens & Wallis, 1943. 48 p. The Diary of a Cat, Salt Lake City: J. Sears, 1934. 19 p.
. . .

43. Cat Drawings, 24 and 23.
. . .

45. Salt Lake Tribune, June 8, 1969.

46. Florence A. Scholes Sears died Jan. 13, 1959. (Source: Salt Lake City Cemetery records.)

* Used by permission, courtesy Peggy Sears.
** Information on "Beverly Gray" (Jeremiah Stokes' pseudonym) courtesy of Douglas E. Bagley and Louis Hoyt DeMers.


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