Thursday, December 11, 2003

John Crane, 73, watercolorist and arts leader

UC graduate later taught there

By Dan Klepal
The Cincinnati Enquirer

LANDEN - The millions of marks John Crane put to paper made him a renowned watercolor artist and a leader in the Cincinnati arts community.

But it's the marks Mr. Crane left on his peers, students and family that he'll be remembered for most.

Mr. Crane, a lifetime resident of Greater Cincinnati, died Dec. 5 at his home after a five-month struggle with complications from surgery. He was 73.

The art bug bit Mr. Crane at age 10, when he traced photos of movie stars from theater display cases. He studied industrial design at the University of Cincinnati from 1950-53 and eventually taught art at the university. While in college, he also took up fencing - a passion that would stay with him long after his school days were over. Mr. Crane placed second in a state fencing tournament in 1965.

Mr. Crane joined the Cincinnati Art Club in 1971, serving as sketch group chairman for three years before being elected to the board of trustees in 1986.

Nancy Crane said her husband's talent left many of his students rummaging through the trash.

"When John was at sketch group, or if he was teaching a class, these people would take anything he threw in the garbage," said his wife of 46 years. "It could be a pencil sketch, or whatever, they'd take his garbage. That is the most flattering thing I've ever heard in my life."

Michael McGuire, president of the art club, said Mr. Crane was all business when it came to his art. His passion and dedication made him one of the foremost watercolor artists in the Midwest, McGuire said. Fellow club members would always hang around and wait patiently for Mr. Crane to finish his display in the club's annual Christmas show.

"We would all wait for him to finish so we'd get first pick," of his paintings for sale, McGuire said. "If you complimented him, he would smile and say thanks and go back to work.

"No one knows what mark they make on others, but John made a mark on the Cincinnati Art Club that we will never forget," McGuire said.

Nancy Crane said her husband's humility extended to their home life.

"At home, he'd cut the grass and walk the cat. He was a great husband. At the art club, he was a famous watercolor artist, he just didn't know it," she said.

Besides his wife, he is survived by daughters, Melinda Carson, of Robert, La., and Kimberly Oswald, of Maineville; two brothers, Robert A. Crane, of Sun Prairie, Wisc., and Stanley A. Crane, of San Pedro, Calif.; and five grandchildren.

Services have been held.

Memorials may be made to the American Diabetes Association, 8899 Brookside Ave., West Chester, 45069.


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