Robert Chase, Sarasota. The Bridge, watercolor, 18 by 25 inches, signed lower right.
Robert Chase spent four years in the South Pacific as an aerial reconnaissance photographer with the US Army Air Force. He moved to Sarasota in 1947 to attend the Ringling School of Art under the GI Bill. Chase opened his own school, The Chase School of Art, in Sarasota in 1949, briefly teaching at the Ringling School, 1950-1951. One of his students was Marie Selby, founder of the world-renowned Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. Mrs. Selby bought Chase property near Sarasota Bay, enabling him to set up his own studio. For the next thirty years Chase painted the Florida scene. In 1953 Chase’s watercolor, Lafayette Street Bridge, Tampa, won 1st prize at the Florida State Fair. His watercolors for the 1955 Bradenton Herald Mail-Away edition, illustrating an article, Anna Maria, I Love You, included Bridge on Bay Boulevard, The Old Island Schoolhouse and Stone Crabbing. Ford Times Magazine published Chase’s Gasparilla Invasion Parade on the cover of its January 1955 issue. In February 1957 issue, Ford Times republished Anna Maria, I Love You, with six Chase watercolors. Jan Wells, art editor of the Tampa Tribune, (May 12, 1957) said, “Robert Chase, who is quickly gaining fame as an outstanding watercolorist on Florida’s West Coast, will feature Florida scenes and circus life….in his month-long one-man show at Contemporary Arts Gallery, Pinellas Park.” In the summer of 1959 Chase was invited to the new Florida Federation of Art headquarters at the DeBary Mansion, near Deland, as artist in resident. Chase’s work was purchased by the University of Florida and former Florida Governor, LeRoy Collins. He exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the University of Florida, the University of North Carolina, the Smithsonian, the Ringling Museum of Art and the University of Illinois. In gratitude to Marie Selby’s generosity, Chase was a regular volunteer at the Gardens on Sunday. He continued to teach and exhibit well into the mid-1980’s. In 2014, at age 95, an old back injury sustained in a plane crash during the war was finally too much. Florida lost one of its last artist veterans of WWII. Born: 1919, Champaign, Illinois. Died: July 19, 2014, Sarasota. Education: University of Illinois; with Frederic Faubes; Robert Phillips; University of Hawaii; Ringling School of Art. Membership: Sarasota Art Association; Florida Federation of Art; Art League of Manatee County; Florida Artist Group; Tampa Art Institute; Alabama Watercolor Society; Washington Watercolor Society. Exhibits: Sarasota Art Association, Winter Exhibit, 1949, Ringling Show; Sarasota Art Association, Circus Show (Only Circus Art), March 1949, Ringling Elephants, Ringling Horses; Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Sarasota Art Association, 1st Annual Art Review, March 1950, Madison Drug Co., Sarasota; Palm Beach Art League 32nd Annual Members Exhibit, March 1950, watercolor, All the King’s Men; Florida Artist Group, 2nd Annual National Circuit, shown under auspices of the Art Department, University of Florida, May 1951 to April 1952; Purchase Award, Florida Union of the University of Florida, The Vendor; Florida Artist Group, 3rd Annual Members Exhibit, Ft. Harrison Hotel, Clearwater, shown under auspices of the Clearwater Art Group, March 1952, black & white drawings and prints, Evening Ritual, Tony, Monday; Art League of Manatee County, Members Exhibit, January 1953; Florida State Fair, Tampa, February 1953, 1st prize, Lafayette St. Bridge, Tampa (pictured Tampa Tribune, February 8, 1953); Art Guild, 1st Exhibit, Tampa, February 1953; Gallery On The Circle, St. Armands Key, March 1953; Manatee County Fair, January 1954, prize; Florida Artist Group, Annual Circuit, 1954, Quiet Forest; Manatee County Art League, November 1954, Florida Fishermen; New Orleans Art Association, 1955, Spring Annual; Art League of Manatee County, All Members Exhibit, October 1955, 209 Ninth St. W. Bradenton, watercolor, Summer in the Park; Ford Motor Company, represented in traveling exhibit, 1955; Florida Artist Group, 6th Annual Circuit, Palm Beach Art League, April 1955, Welcome; Ridge Art Center, Winter Haven, April 1955, one man show; Watercolor Society of Alabama, 9th Annual, 1955; Florida Federation of Art, 30th Annual, Norton Art Gallery, November 1956, After the Rain, Havana; Florida State Fair, Fine Arts Exhibit, January 29-February 9, 1957, Bird Vendor; Art League of Manatee County, 21st Annual Members Exhibition, February 1957, 1st prize, Joy Trees; Contemporary Arts Gallery, Pinellas Park, May 1957, one-man exhibit including, Clown Lou Jacobs, Merry-Go-Round; Art Club of St. Petersburg, October 1957; Society of The Four Arts, Contemporary American Paintings, December 1957, mixed media, Harbor Town; Gilcrease Institute of American History and Art, Oklahoma, 1st prize, 1958 watercolor, The Bird Vendor; Florida State Fair, Tampa, February 1958; Art League of Manatee County, 22nd Annual, February 1958, 3rd prize, Merry-Go-Round; Miami Beach Art Center, 2100 Collins Avenue, Circus Art by Sarasota Artists, Circus Horse and Joey; Florida Federation of Art, 32nd Annual Exhibition, November 13-28, 1958, Daytona Beach, watercolor, Night Construction; Florida State Fair, Tampa, February 1959, mixed media Yellow Boats at Naha; Craft Village, Fourth Street, St. Petersburg, February 1959; Art League of Manatee County, pure watercolor, Members Annual Exhibit, January 1959, honorable mention, The Door, Cape Cod; Clearwater Art Group, 10th Annual, Municipal Auditorium, February 1959, honorable mention, Three Horses; Art League of Manatee County, Annual Member’s Juried Exhibit, March 1959, The Bridge, Trees at Osake; Sarasota Art Association, Flowers and Landscape Exhibition, January 1959, The Poplar Trees, The Sentinel of Summer, March 1959, The Bridge, Trees at Osake; Florida State Fair, Tampa, 1959, Yellow Boats at Naha; Society of The Four Arts, 21st Annual, Contemporary American Paintings, December 1959, casein and oil, The Flood; Sarasota Art Association, Members’ Annual Juried Exhibition, February 1960, Procession in Mexico; Napier School of Art, St. Petersburg, January 1961; Florida Gulf Coast Art Center, March 1961, watercolors; Florida Artist Group, 14th Annual Exhibition, 1963-1964 at Tampa Art Institute, watercolor, White Cathedral; American Embassy, Rome, Paris, Helsinki, traveling exhibit for the United States Government, 1960-1970’s; Bradenton Beaux Arts Gallery, Christmas Theme Art Competition, December 1980, 2nd prize, Snowy Christmas Village; Sarasota Square, 5th Annual Juried Art Festival, April 30-May 2, 1982, judge; Longboat Key Art Center, April-May 1983, six area artists including former art center instructor, Robert Chase; Art Exhibition sponsored by United States Information Agency toured Europe and South America; National Art Gallery, Washington, D.C.; University of Illinois; University of Florida; University of North Carolina, One Man Show; Art League of Janesville, Wisconsin, one man show; Metropolitan Museum of Art; Ford Collection of American Art, Detroit; Montgomery Museum of Art, Montgomery, Alabama; Gilcrease Museum, Tulsa, Oklahoma; DeMille Circus Collection, Los Angeles; High Museum, Atlanta; Society of The Four Arts, Palm Beach; permanent collection, University of Florida. Directory: Listed in the Sarasota City Directory as an artist 1953, 1955 to 1957 with a studio at 1646 Marill.