Paul Kirtland Mays Biography

Painter, illustrator, muralist.  Born in Cheswick, PA on Oct. 4, 1887.  After drawing and painting during his childhood, at age 15, Mays began his art studies at the Cheshire Academy in Connecticut.  He further studied at Oberlin College, Hawthorne School in Provincetown, and the Art Students League of New York City under William M. Chase.

His first art exhibition at age 23 in NYC was such a financial success that he was able to further his art studies in Paris at Academies Colarossi and Grande Chaumière, and London's Slade School.

In 1915 he came to San Francisco to assist Albert Herter on murals at the St Francis Hotel and, in that year, visited Carmel where he was to live intermittently for the rest of his life. Mays traveled constantly and made several trips to Europe from 1924-33. Returning from Europe in 1933, he remained on the East Coast for three years, and fulfilled many commissions for the Public Works of Art Project.  During this period President Roosevelt selected his painting The Jungle to hang in the executive office of the White House.  In 1936 he returned to California and bought a house in Carmel.  The years 1947-53 were spent with relatives in Bryn Athyn, PA while teaching at the Carnegie Institute.  Mays returned to his Carmel home in 1953 and continued painting there until his death on June 30, 1961. His paintings of landscapes and animals are distinguished by the treatment of light and have a dream-like, mystic quality.

Member: Carmel AA (charter member); Artists Equity; Natl. Society of Mural Painters.

Exhibited: Palace of FA (SF), 1920; Pasadena Gallery, 1925; Whitney Museum, 1933; San Diego FA Gallery; Stendahi Gallery (LA).

Murals: Dudley P. Allen Museum (Oberlin, OH); Treasury Dept. (Philadelphia); Bryn Athyn (PA) Library; Paramount Theatre (LA); Graumans Theatre (LA).

In: Sam; AAW; WWC; WWAA 1936-59; Art & Artists on Monterey Peninsula; YAMP; Monterey: The Artists View 1925-1945.

Source: Edan Hughes, “Artists in California, 1786-1940”