Joseph J. Hollenbeck, Palm Beach. Miss Thelma Jean Miller, Girl with Hibiscus, Miss Democracy 1943, oil on canvas 20 by 24 inches. Signed lower right, J.J. Hollenbeck, Palm Beach, 1943.

Thelma Jean Miller was born in Palm Beach in 1926 and a student at Palm Beach High School before World War II. In 1942, artist Joseph J. Hollenbeck, as part of a War Savings Bond drive, donated a portrait to be painted by him, of the winner of a “Miss Freedom” contest. Four Palm Beach civic organizations raised over $500,000 in the contest with Thelma Jean Miller of Palm Beach High the winner and named “Miss Democracy.” Thelma Jean Miller was “Most Popular” and the sweetheart of the Key Club at Palm Beach High School in 1943. She married Norman James Griffin in 1945. Norma Jean spent her life in the greater Palm Beach area, teaching kindergarten and elementary school at the Palm Beach Bath and Tennis Club. She died in Royal Palm Beach in February 2011, age 85.

Joseph J. Hollenbeck was one of the first professional artists working in Palm Beach when he arrived there in 1910 from Jersey City, New Jersey. He shared a studio in a “crude wooden building” on County Road with noted photographer, Ernest W. Histed. Hollenbeck opened studios at the Royal Poinciana and Breakers Hotels, and later at Whitehall, Henry Flagler’s home, when it became a hotel. He said he had been painting in Palm Beach, “since South County Road was a cow path.” He and Histed shared commissions in painting and photographing some of Palm Beach’s first families, when many were beginning to make the resort their winter homes. Hollenbeck spent summer months at Southampton on Long Island, New York. At the opening of the Palm Beach Art Club exhibit in March 1924, the Palm Beach Post noted, “Many admiring comments were heard on the exhibits of Joseph J. Hollenbeck. Especially vivid was his jungle scene, typical of certain sections of Florida. The vivid coloring of tropical birds is delightful and exotic contrast to the dimness of the jungle in the light of a tropical moon, casting its beams down on the moss-bearded trees.” The Post noted Hollenbeck’s work in the Art League exhibit in April 1937, “Two of the finest canvases are those of J. J. Hollenbeck…Each shows the workmanship of a master…Detail work in both is splendid.” At the outset of World War 11, Hollenbeck began teaching art classes at the Norton Gallery in West Palm Beach. That year Hollenbeck, as part of a War Savings Bond drive sponsored by local civic organizations, donated a portrait by him, to the winner of a “Miss Freedom” contest. The contest raised over $500,000 with Thelma Jean Miller of Palm Beach High, the winner and named “Miss Democracy.” Hollenbeck continued in Palm Beach, teaching art on Fridays to children at the local children’s hospital. His last notice in the Post was November 30, 1968 that reads, “Mr. J. J. Hollenbeck, pioneer Palm Beach artist for the past 60 years, must dispose of his collection of fine paintings which include floral-landscapes, still life and religious. Exhibited at the Gallery, 301 Hibiscus Ave. Palm Beach.”

Born: March 19, 1877. Education: Art Students League; privately with William Merritt Chase and Robert Henri. Membership: Florida Federation of Art; Palm Beach County Art Club; Palm Beach Art League. Exhibits: Royal Poinciana Studio, opposite Royal Poinciana Hotel, March 1924; Palm Beach County Art Club, at Woman’s Club, March 1924, Just Fish, Zinnias, Jungle; Studio at Via Mizner, Peruvian Avenue, 1925; Big Store, Datura Street, Palm Beach, exhibit and sale of paintings, August 1925; Palm Beach County Art Club, 8th Annual, March 1926; Palm Beach Art League, at Women’s Club, March 1928; Palm Beach Art League, At Woman’s Club, West Palm Beach, March 1931, portrait of Betty, and Floral Study; Florida Federation of Art, annual, 1931, Palm Beach; Florida Federation of Art, 6th Annual Circuit Exhibit, Tampa, February 1933; Palm Beach Art League, February 1934, oil portrait of Mrs. Norris Erb; Palm Beach Art League annual at Woman’s Club auditorium, April 1937, Nook in My Studio (antique table with bowl of flowers) and Portrait of a Lovely Young Girl; Society of the Four Arts, Palm Beach, 2nd Annual, April 1937, flower painting; Palm Beach Art League, 2nd  prize, best flowers by a professional, March 1939; Palm Beach Art League, at George Washington Hotel, March-April 1940, portraits, Mrs. Nora A. Erb (Daisy Erb’s mother) and Dr. Tyndall; Florida Federation of Art annual exhibit, member of jury, December 1942; Palm Beach Art League, Norton Gallery, March 1944; Palm Beach Art League 27th Annual, Norton Gallery, March 1945 to 1947; Ogunquit Art Club, Ogunquit, Maine, June 1961, portrait, Miss Justine Hartman; Darrom’s Antiques, 337 Worth Avenue, floral oil paintings, by J. J. Hollenbeck, February 1965; Hollenbeck Gallery, 301 Hibiscus Avenue, Palm Beach, February 1968. Directory: Listed in the West Palm Beach City Directory, 1947, 1952-1957 as an artist with a studio at 337 North Ave in 1947, later at 237 1/2 North Avenue, Palm Beach, in 1961 at 302 Hibiscus Avenue, Palm Beach. 

Hollenbeck, J. J. Palm Beach. Oil on board, 11 five ¾ by 15 ¾ inches. Signed on back, J.J. Hollenbeck, the board with Greenleaf and Crosby imprint.

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