John Potter Wheat (1920 - 1980)
Crowd Entering Churchill Downs for Kentucky Derby, n.d.
Oil on artist board
21 3/4 x 27 3/8 inches
John Potter Wheat studied at the Art Students League and at the Yale School of Fine Arts. He graduated with a Masters of Fine Arts degree.
Wheat was known for his landscapes although he did paint portraits or figures infrequently. He went through a realistic period where he painted a great many barns, New England scenes and churches. Later he began using the palette knife and painting in a realistic/surrealistic manner. He painted murals throughout his life- for the OSS in WWII and murals relating historical events. South Central bank in Keokuk, Iowa has a huge mural by Wheat depicting the city’s role in the westward expansion of the country. He also painted numerous murals depicting historical events for movie theaters and other venues.
In 1968, he was commissioned by the army to paint the Vietnam War. He was the official combat artist in Vietnam for the Office of the Chief of Military History, Department of the army. He was in Vietnam from November 16th, 1968 until December, 16th, 1968. Twelve major paintings and 160 drawings were accepted by the U.S Army Historical Collection on January 1st, 1970.
His works can be found in the collections of the New Britain Museum of American Art in New Britain, Connecticut, The Springfield Museum of Fine Arts in Springfield, Massachusetts, and The Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, Ohio.