Don J. Emery was father to the art tradition in Daytona Beach. Born and raised in Chelsea, Vermont, Emery attended the Holderness school at Plymouth, New Hampshire, and graduated from St. Johnsbury Academy, at St. Johnbury, Vermont. He studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the Fenway School of Illustration, under famous artists William Paxon, Philip Hale, Arthur Spears, and N.C. Wyeth. Emery then worked as an illustrator for book publisher Houghton-Mifflin and as art director of the Cushing-Perrine Company in New York City.
In New York, he joined the National Guard as a member of the 27th Division. Emery served in France and Belgium during World War I and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the French Croix de Guerre, and the British Military Medal. He retired from the Army as a Captain. Emery and his wife Isabel came to Daytona Beach in 1922, joined the staff of the Daytona Beach Daily News, and listed in the Daytona Beach City Directory as an advertising counselor. Emery designed commercial art for the City of Daytona Beach, the Chamber of Commerce, the Daytona Highlands Real Estate Development Company, and other local businesses. Emery’s son, Don Woodruff Emery was born in 1925. In 1932, with architect and artist John Rodgers, he helped organize the Daytona Beach Art League. About this time he opened the Daytona Beach Art School at 128 Broadway. Emery was employed by the Florida Art Project of the Works Progress Administration (The W.P.A.) as field supervisor for the Daytona Beach area.
Emery gave a report on the accomplishments of the project in the southern part of Florida, at a meeting of field supervisors in Jacksonville in September of 1938. “More than 130 murals, work of project artists, have been placed in city and rural schools. Other mural projects have furnished decorative panels for many civic institutions and work is being carried on now for similar allocation. Extension work, lectures, exhibitions and teaching services have formed a large part of the program. Of special interest is the class organized at the Florida State Prison in Raiford, where a selected group of convicts is given art instruction twice monthly by project artists.”
In 1951 Emery’s son, Don W., graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelors Degree in Fine Art. Father and son received a commission to paint a series of six murals for the Florida Bank and Trust Company on Beach Street. In November of 1954 Emery received the Myrtle Taylor Bradford Award at the Florida Federation of Art Annual meeting in Jacksonville. The award, a gold medal, was first established by the Miami Women’s Club in 1936, and given to an artist, or writer, adjudged to have done outstanding work in his field for the community. Don J. Emery died in Daytona in 1956. His legacy to Daytona Beach and Florida, thirty-four years defining the beauty of the state in oil paint on canvas.
Born: December 25, 1888, Chelsea, Vermont.
Died: September 7, 1956, Daytona Beach.
Education: School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts; Fenway School of Illustration, Boston, Massachusetts; With William Paxton, Phillip Hale, Arthur Speare, Chase Emerson, Harold M. Brett, N. C. Wyeth, Harvey Dunn, C. Adrian Pillars, Ralph McClennan.
Membership: Daytona Beach Art League, founder, president; Florida Artist Group; Florida Federation of Art; Daytona Beach Advertising Club; Daytona Beach Chamber of Commerce; Halifax Boy Scouts Council.
Exhibits: Daytona Beach Sunday News Journal, advertising art for Highland Lake, and the Daytona Highlands Company, 1926; First Art Salon, Yowell-Drew Department Store, Beach Street, Daytona Beach, February 9-16, 1932, A Florida Hammock; Daytona Beach Art League, Art Mart, April 1, 1933; Florida Federation of Art, Annual Circuit, 1935, best figure, A Young Girl; Daytona Beach Art League 4th Annual Exhibit, 1936, 1st prize, still life; Daytona Beach Art League, 5th Annual Exhibit, 128 Broadway, March 1937; Florida Federal Art Project, traveling exhibit, A Survey of Artistic Activity in Florida in Retrospect, 1938, Key West, Miami, New Smyrna, Daytona Beach, Jacksonville, Tampa, St. Petersburg, Ocala, Pensacola; Daytona Beach Art League Annual, March 1940, 1st prize, professional class, portrait, oil, Buddy Treloar, honorable mention, landscape, oil, Autumn-Vermont, oil, Weatherman; Daytona Beach Art League, 9th Annual, March 1941, 1st prize, professional, oil, landscape, Valley Farmhouse, 2nd prize, Lonely Cabin; Daytona Beach Art League, 10th Annual, March 1942, landscape, 2nd prize; Daytona Beach Art League, 11th Annual, March 1943, 2nd prize, portrait, oil, Head in Sepia, still life, oil, 1st prize, Studio Corner, miscellaneous oil, 1st prize, In a Birch Tree Grove; Daytona Beach Art League, February-March, 1944, landscape, marine, honorable mention, Near New Castleton- Vermont; Daytona Beach Art League, 15th Annual, March 1947, Surf and Sand-Daytona, In the Pine Flats-Florida, Covered Bridge-Vermont, Abandoned Mill-Bedford, Village in the Distance; Art Club of Jacksonville, Fall Exhibition, November 1947, at American School of Art, East Adams St. judge; Daytona Beach Art League, 16th Annual, April 1948, Sunlit Dunes-Daytona Beach, Breezy Bay, Clearing Weather, Old Churchyard-Concord, Mass., Foggy Day-Cuttyhunk Island, Pine Flats-Daytona Beach, Giant White Birch, Cuttyhunk Harbor, Tonic Poem, Pineland Vista, Preparations; Daytona Beach Art Center, one man exhibit, January 23 to February 4, 1949, Dunes in the Afternoon, Adirondack Birches, Surf at Sunrise, Shrimpers-Port Orange, Stormy Weather, Pine Forest, Cuttyhunk Harbor, Rural Parish-Vermont, Lonely Vigil, Old Sugar Mill-Port Orange, Blue Spring Run, Birch Tree Grove, Dunes-Ormond Beach, Adirondack Glen, Swordfisherman at Dock, Cuttyhunk Light, Fountain of Youth Park, Pine Flats, The Silo, Dunes in Fog, New England Pastoral, View From Twist-o-hill, Mount Mansfield, Birch Trees-Southern Quebec, Hazy Day in Florida, Fisherman’s Wharf-Cuttyhunk, Rocks in a Fog, The Double Bridge, Fishing Village, Foggy Weather, The Eel, Cap’n Deen’s House, Covered Bridge-Vermont, Dunes Near Daytona Beach, View Through an Old Bridge, Tang Camel (6th Century), The Dwarf and the Oil Can, Tang Warrior (6th Century), Franciscan Mission Ruins, Noonday Boat-Cuttyhunk; Daytona Beach Art Center, one man show; Art Club of St. Petersburg, October 1949; Florida Bank and Trust Company, Daytona Beach. Commission for murals, 1951, Map of Florida, Lighthouse at Ponce de Leon Inlet, Blue Springs, Ocean Dunes on the Atlantic, Bulow Plantation Ruins, Sailboats on the River. Murals today at the Halifax Historical Society, Beach Street, Daytona Beach; St. Augustine Art Association, jury, January 1951; Florida State Fair, Tampa, February 1951, 1st prize, portraiture; Daytona Beach Art Center, first father, son art exhibit, January 1953, twenty-seven paintings by Don J. Emery, fifteen by Don Woodruff Emery; St. Augustine Art Association, honorable mention, April 1954, oil landscape, Birch Tree; Art Club of St. Petersburg, October 1955; Florida Artist Group, 6th Annual Circuit, Palm Beach Art League, April 1955, Dunes-Daytona Beach; Daytona Beach Art League, 24th Annual Exhibit of Members’ Work, January-February 1956. oil, Rural Architecture, oil, House 1798, Bridge 1849; Daytona Beach Art League, Memorial Exhibit, December 30, 1956; Daytona Beach High School; Deland High School; Huntington Art Gallery, Huntington, Long Island; Department of History & Archives, State Capital, Montgomery, Alabama; Florida Southern College, Lakeland; Florida Federation of Art, award, portrait of Eleven Year Old Girl.
Directory: Listed in the Deland City Directory as an artist in 1924-25 with studio at 121 Palm place. Listed in Daytona Beach City Directory, 1924, 1925, 1933, 1934, 1935, 1937, 1946, 1947, 1949, 1951, 1953, 1959, 1960, as an artist with studio at 128 Broadway in 1933 to 1935 and at 239 Tarragona Way, 1946 to 1960.