Known as a writer as well as artist and teacher, Ralph Holmes distinguished himself as a mural painter in Pittsburgh and New York before moving to California where he had a long teaching and painting career. "His landscapes of Yosemite and Bryce Canyon as well as the desert and
rolling hills of southern California have brought him national fame." (Hughes, 540)
He was born in La Grange, Illinois, and growing up in Illinois attended Northwestern University for three years, and the Art Institute of Chicago for four years. He studied in Paris, and from 1903-1912, was on the faculty of the Art Institute of Chicago. He then spent five years as Chair of the Department of Painting and Decorating at Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh.
In 1916, he went West, spending the summer on the Hopi Reservation in Arizona, and from that time, he continued to paint in the Southwest. In 1918, he moved to Atascadero in Southern California, and became a teacher at the Otis Art Institute from 1923 to 1948, and for twenty-five years was also art instructor at the Marlborough School for girls. He served as art editor and writer for E.G. Lewis's Illustrated Review, was a four-term President of the California Art Club, President of "Art in National Defense", and a member of the Academy of Western Painters.
He died in San Luis Obispo.
Academy of Western Painters, Los Angeles; Long Beach Art Association; Laguna Beach
Carnegie Institute, 1915 (silver medal); Atascadero Art Association, 1918;
Oakland Art Gallery, 1919; California Art Club, 1924-38; Painters &
Sculptors of Los Angeles, 1926-32 (gold medal); Pasadena Art Institute, 1928; California
State Fair, 1930; Santa Cruz Art League, 1934; Los Angeles Art Association, 1937; City Hall, Los Angeles, 1938; American Artists Congress, Los Angeles, 1938; Chamber of Commerce
(Santa Paula), 1938; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1939 (solo); Sanity in Art (Los Angeles, 1940;
Santa Paula, 1940 (1st prize); Golden Gate International Exposition, 1940; Gump's (San Francisco), 1940; Ebell
Club (Los Angeles), 1942; Glendale Art Association, 1950.
Edan Hughes, Artists in California, 1786-1940
Doris Dawdy, Artists of the American West, Vol. III