Photos above Courtesy of Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution:
(right) Jay H. Connaway, 1938 / 1 photographic print: B7w; 25 x 19 cem. Courtesy of Macbeth Gallery records. 1896-1969, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. (digital ID #2031)
(left) Jay Hall Connaway, 1968 / 1 photographic print: b&w; 11/8 cm. Courtesy of the Jay H. Connaway papers, 1896-1979, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. (digital ID #5736)
photo below; Jay Hall Connaway at work in his studio, ca. 1960] / Charles Wilson photographer, 1 photographic print: b&w; 25x20 cm. Courtesy of the Jay H. Connaway papers, 1896-1979, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, (digital ID 5739)
used with permission of Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution PO Box 37012 The Victor Building, Suite 2200, MRC 973 Washington DC 20013-7012
Jay Hall Connaway was a descendant of the Conway family of Orange County, Virginia. The Conway and Madison families were joined when Eleanor Rose "Nelly" Conway married James Madison Senior in 1749. Their son became the fourth President of the United States.
In 1815 Jay Connaway's great-great-great grandfather James changed the spelling of his name from Conway to Connaway. He left South Carolina and brought his family to the Indiana territory and to what would become Union County.
Union and adjoining Fayette county has served as the home of many of the Connaways since that time. Most were farmers. Joseph W. Connaway, however, studied at the Liberty Academy, attending Miami University in Oxford, Ohio and was admitted to the bar as a lawyer in 1866. Joseph married Isaleen Crist 22 April 1869 in Union County and there he began his law practice . He was living there when his son Casper (Cass) was born in 1869.
Cass Connaway also was a lawyer. In 1900 he was living on Keystone Avenue in Indianapolis, Indiana with his wife May and two sons, Jay Hall and Hugh.
Paraphrased From February 1970 Liberty Herald
Famed Painter Succumbs
Jay Hall Connaway, 76, of Dorset Vt. died Wednesday while vacationing in Tucson, Arizona.
A famed painter, Mr. Connaway was born in Liberty, November 27 1893. He graduated from Emmerich Manual high school and had his first art training from William Forsyth at John Herron School of Art in Indianapolis in 1910 and 1911.
From 1912-1914 he attended the Art Student's League at New York City and then went to the Maine Coast to study rock formations and swells of the sea.
In 1917 he enlisted in the U.S. Army in World War I and in France was set to drawing maps. Later transferred to Lilly Base hospital 32, Indianapolis, he was assigned to "the most wonderful work of my life" - making detailed color drawings of lesions caused by mustard gas on human skin.
He continued his studies in Paris at the academy Julian and Beaux Arts after the war and at age 27, returned to America, seeking the lonely sea.
His first paintings appeared in the New York galleries in 1923 and he presented many one-man shows. He was elected to the National Academy of Art.
Mr. Connaway organized the Connaway Art school, Monhegan Island Maine, in 1939. Later he was owner and teacher of the Connaway Art School in Dorset Vermont.
One-man shows of his works were held regularly throughout his career at the MacBeth Gallery and the Kennedy Gallery at New York, city; the Long Galleries and the Houston Galleries, Houston Texas; the Galaxy Gallery Phoenix, Arizona and the Summer Gallery, Manchester, Vermont.
Mr. Connaway's awards in later years include the New Haven Connecticut Paint and Clay club prize; the Hans Hurich prize; Allied Artists prize; Boothbay Harbor (ME) prize; Lucille Dungley best Martine prize and many more.
Columnist Lowell Nusbaum had this to say about Connaway in the Monday issue of the Indianapolis Star: "Jay Hall Connaway, the Hoosier-born, world famous artist, who died last week became an artist the hard way.
Elmer Talflinger, who worked with Connaway at the Murat Theater when they were boys recalls that Connaway's father was bitterly opposed to him becoming an artist. Jay was attending Herron art school at that time.
Later he went to New York where he lived a hand-to-mouth existence. There he practically lived on canned tomatoes because they were so cheap. And when he was painting the sea on an island off the coast of Main, in the summer, he lived on berries.
Food wasn't the worst of his problems. With no income, he couldn't buy canvases. When he was lucky enough to have a shirt to wear, he sometimes would stretch it and paint on it. To conceal his lack of a shirt when he was outside his room, he turned his coat collar up.
It was a rough life, but it wasn't in vain. Before his death, his paintings were bringing as much as $60,000 each."
There were no funeral services for Mr. Connaway, as the body is being donated at his request to the University of Vermont School of Medicine at Burlington.
Survivors include a daughter in New York City, a brother, Hugh W. of Indianapolis, a retired photographer for the Indianapolis Star; an Aunt Mrs. Leah Connaway of Liberty and first cousins Charles C. Widdows and Glenn Connaway, both of Liberty.
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