Eric Bransby (born October 25, 1916) is an artist and muralist born in Auburn, New York. He studied and made murals in Colorado Springs, Colorado, including several at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. He taught at Yale University, Brigham Young University and University of Missouri-Kansas City. His wife, Mary Ann, was an accomplished artist and educator.
Early years and personal life
Eric James Bransby was born in 1916 in Auburn, New York to Lillian Holland Dowsett Bransby and Charles Carson Bransby. He was raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and then in Council Bluffs, Iowa. His father was born in Manchester, England, raised in Scotland and was a preacher. His mother was born in New Zealand and raised in London, England.
Bransby was married for nearly 70 years to Mary Ann, until her death in August, 2011. Mary Ann Hemmie, daughter of Joe and Lillian Hemmie was an artist and educator. Mary Ann attended the Kansas City Art Institute on a scholarship and studied silversmithing. She studied and mastered watercolor painting under Thomas Hart Benton. Two weeks before the Pearl Harbor Attack in December 1941, Mary Ann married Eric Bransby, who was a fellow student. Their daughter, Fredericka was born in June, 1943. Their daughter developed asthma and the family returned to Colorado Springs for a more favorable climate for Fredericka.[nb 1] He turned 100 in October 2016.
During the Great Depression, Bransby studied under Thomas Hart Benton in Kansas City. He created his first mural for the Works Progress Administration in Kansas City, Kansas. After World War II, Bransby continued his studies on the G.I. Bill. He studied at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center School.[nb 2] His wife also studied at the school. Both were students of Boardman Robinson. and then Eric was a student of Jean Charlot, who helped him finish the thesis for Colorado College and paint the college's Cossitt Hall domed ceiling in 1947.
Aside from his teachers and himself, other key muralists at Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center the during the New Deal era included Archie Musick, Ethel Magafan, George Biddle, and Edgar Britton. In 1952 he studied at Yale under abstract colorist Josef Albers.
World War II
- Resilience mural (2012), made for the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center's Glass Corridor, was made to celebrate the center's 75th Anniversary. The mural includes the history of the center and art forms, including dance, theatre and music. The 5' by 27' mural was made when Bransby was 94 years of age and was dedicated April 20, 2012. After his wife's death former art student, Rev. Bradford N. Bray, suggested to Bransby to add her to the mural of the History of the Fine Arts Center. She was depicted as a student of Robinson.
- Frescos (1986) were repainted by Bransby over the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center's front entrance for its 50th Anniversary. The frescos were originally painted by Boardman Robinson in 1936, but had faded over time. Blake Milteer, the museum's director stated that: "Bransby masterfully enhanced Robinson's original forms with his own details on the original facade."
- Student Achievement mural, Nichols Hall, Kansas State University (1986). The mural, dedicated on October 10, 1986, depicts the history of Nichols Hall on the east wall of the atrium.
- History of Navigation (1968) was commissioned by the United States Air Force Planetarium and has been on loan from the Air Force Academy to the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. Made the year before the moon landing, mural panels totally 30 feet in length, depict navigation history up to space travel. The work was made in polymer and tempera.
- Mural on a wall of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center (1950s). The mural was torn down during a renovation in the 1970s.
- "Legacy of St Paul" (1986) commissioned by St Paul Lutheran Church and Academy, Skokie, Illinois.
The following are publications by or about Bransby:
- Eric Bransby; William U. Eiland; Marilyn Laufer (1 June 2004). Figurative Connections: Selected Works by Eric Bransby. University of Georgia, Georgia Museum of Art. ISBN 978-0-915977-53-6.
- Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum (1996). Murals of the Pikes Peak Region: Eric Bransby, Artist. The Museum.
- Mary Ann also studied at Yale University and the University of Illinois at Urbana. She completed her bachelor's and master's degree at University of Missouri in Kansas City. She taught at Donnelly College and University of Missouri at Kansas City, where she taught at the graduate level. She "initiated" a program called "Choreographing the Object" that was a fusion of music, dance and art. Performances were conducted in the Midwest, an annual meeting of the College Art Association, and on the television program Good Morning America. In Colorado Springs, following retirement, Mary Ann founded the Chromatic Edge and The Pikes Peak Watercolor Society.
- A Press Release issued by the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center stated that Bransby studied at the center from 1938-1940, but he studied in Kansas during this time period.
- "Sedalia". katytrail.net. Retrieved August 21, 2013.
- William Underwood Eiland. "Eric Bransby: Draftsman and Muralist". Resource Library Magazine, Traditional Fine Arts Organization, Inc. Retrieved June 1, 2013.
- "Eric Bransby Mural - Resilience". Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. Archived from the original on July 8, 2012. Retrieved June 1, 2013.
- "Press Release - Update on the 75th Anniversary mural created by local art legend" (PDF). Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 27, 2014. Retrieved June 1, 2013.
- "Mary Ann Bransby Obituary". The Gazette. August 28, 2011. Retrieved June 1, 2013.
- Staff (2016-10-25). "Eric Bransby Celebrates 100 years". Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. Retrieved 2016-11-13.