Justin Carlisle Gruelle, son of Richard Buckner Gruelle, and younger brother of Johnny Gruelle, was my uncle and mentor.
In his memory, I have collected his paintings, sketches, photos, scrapbook and archives, and am using this website to share information about his life and work.
Paul William Smart firstname.lastname@example.org
Justin Carlyle Gruelle (1889 – 1978)
Justin was born in Indianapolis, July 1, 1889, the son of Alice Benton and Hoosier Group Painter, Richard B. Gruelle. The aspiring young artist painted portraits and landscapes with the encouragement from his father and older brother Johnny, the creator of Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy. Justin received formal training in drawing, painting and photography at John Herron Art Institute and The New York Art Student’s League.
Between 1910 and 1955, the professional art career of Justin Gruelle centered around New York City where he was known for his detailed landscape paintings and colorful illustrations of products for advertising, magazine covers, movie posters, sheet music and books. He was commissioned to create family portraits, and eventually large corporate murals that combined his many talents. Justin’s book Mother Goose Parade with fanciful illustrations was published in 1929 to great reviews. His home / studio was in Silvermine, the artist’s colony along the river between Norwalk, New Canaan, and Wilton Connecticut. Justin, his father and brother were members of The Knockers, an artist’s group that was the precursor of the Silvermine Guild of Art.
During the great economic depression, Justin was commissioned to research and paint fourteen murals for the Federal Art Project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), between 1935 and 1940. Six of these large murals are displayed outside the Mayor’s office at Norwalk City Hall. One of his triptychs can be seen in the Norwalk Art Museum and another at Norwalk Public Library. There are five of his WPA paintings in the Little Red Schoolhouse Museum, New Canaan Historical Society, and one large mural with twenty-four portraits in the library of New Canaan High School.
Wide acclaim for his large WPA paintings led to commissions for him to research and paint eight large murals for The Liquidometer Corporation, Long Island City, between 1940 and 1954. The Early Birds, an 18′ x 7′ oil painting on canvas, features seventeen portraits of aviation pioneers including the Wright Brothers and over twenty early aircraft against a visualized background of how the earth might someday appear from outer space. The painting was formerly in the collection of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Washington, D.C. After a three year exhibition at The Indiana Historical Society it has now been permanently installed at The Museum of Flight, Seattle, Washington.
In 1955 Gruelle and his wife Mabel moved to Alpine California in the mountains east of San Diego. They designed and printed a collection of silkscreen prints and note cards to reveal the beauty of their new hometown. Justin was fascinated with nature and created a series of oil paintings to capture the ever-changing effects of light and shadows on the mountain landscape. Gruelle, a theosophist, created fourteen large paintings depicting The Way of the Cross for the new Queen of Angels Roman Catholic Church, his contribution to their Alpine community in 1959.
He died on April 20th, 1978; his ashes are interred in the Gruelle family plot at Crown Hill Cemetery, Indianapolis.
Chronology of Justin’s Life and Works
1889 -1906: Early Childhood
Father: Hoosier Group Artist Richard B. Gruelle.
Mother: Alice Benton
Brother: Johnny Gruelle (1880 – 1938) creator of Raggedy Ann and Andy books and dolls. Justin added color to early drawings, painted doll faces, illustrated five books after Johnny’s death.
Sister: Prudence Gruelle Brown (1884 – 1966) Author, Meadow Folks Story Hour, vaudeville circuit, “Singing Cartoonist”
Justin C. Gruelle was born July 1,1889 in Indianapolis (1889 – 1978)
From Justin’s memoirs:
“At an early age, I began to experiment with my father’s paints, canvas and brushes. This must have been a great nuisance for him, but I can’t recall him ever complaining about this misuse of his precious art supplies.”
In addition to being taught the basics of painting in oil by his father, Justin learned drawing techniques from older sister, Prudence and brother, John. Both went on to be successful illustrators and cartoonists as adults.
Justin attended Public School #15 and graduated from Arsenal Technical High School at age seventeen.
1906 – 1907: The Gruelle Family’s Move to New York City
Although not considered a permanent move, Mr. and Mrs. Gruelle rented their home on Tacoma Avenue for one year. They moved to New York City so that Justin could experience the art world, and his sister Prudy could study music.
From Justin’s memoirs:
John and Myrtle had married and were living in Cleveland at the time of our move to the east coast. He was sport and political cartoonist for The Cleveland Press. I can only conjecture as to why this move to New York was made. I believe that R.B.G. felt the need of a little artistic rejuvenation and that he realized a visit to Manhattan, with its art galleries and museums would contribute to my aesthetic development. For by this time, it was quite evident that I was going to follow the family tradition and become an artist. My father and I haunted the art galleries and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, uptown in Central Park. Prudence had been taking vocal lessons for several years and no doubt our parents felt that New York would stimulate her future progress in music.
The family occupied the spacious sky-lighted apartment and studio in a four-story walk-up building on 23rd Street, just west of Sixth Avenue, Manhattan.
From Justin’s memoirs:
One of our neighbors who had a studio near us on Twenty-Third Street was Addison T. Millar. He was a native of Ohio and was an excellent painter and etcher. The Millars and Gruelles became good friends. The Millars bought some acreage in Silvermine, Connecticut and built a studio home there. It was through them that we heard of this beautiful area, forty-five miles north of Manhattan.
1908 – 1909: Return to Indianapolis
The Gruelle Family returned to Indianapolis to enable Justin to have more formal training in photography and classes with Hoosier Group Artists Otto Stark and William Forsyth at The John Herron Art Institute, now part of Indiana University.
From Justin’s memoirs:
My most interesting activity in Indianapolis during the next year was the months spent in William Forsyth’s life drawing class at the John Herron Art Institute. Forsyth, while primarily a landscape painter, was a fine instructor in drawing from life, and it was a valuable experience.
1909 – 1910: Academic Year in New York
From Justin’s memoirs:
I spent the winter of 1909 again in New York and entered George Bridgeman’s life drawing class at The Art Students’ League. Bridgeman was a superb teacher and one of the best that the country has produced. Those months were invaluable to me.
Among the Hoosier artists living and studying in New York at the time was Albert Matzke, an early student of R.B.G. He later married Prudence and became one of the family. Albert spent several years studying at the Art Students League and later became an instructor at that venerable art institution.
From Justine’s memoirs:
Albert had great artistic talent as a boy, and my father had encouraged him to develop this latent ability.
1910 – 1956: The Early Silvermine Years
From Justin’s memoirs:
Mr. Millar told us of some land next to his property in Silvermine that was for sale. Albert, Prudence and I went up to Connecticut the next weekend to inspect the place. Folks used their legs to get from one spot to the next. The old Blanchard mill was several miles from the end of the Winnepauk trolley and the long walk from there was expected and enjoyed. We were delighted with its possibilities, so in 1910, the Gruelle Family became the owners of this old New England home, mill and sixteen acres.
The one hundred year old house was typically New England with its small rooms and low ceilings, altogether a quaint and lovely place with a kitchen extension and storage shed. A narrow stairway led to the upper floor where there were three small bedrooms. The sixteen acres, on both side of the river were wooded with fine old trees.
Across the road from the house was the old Blanchard Furrier Mill, a substantial building of two stories plus the basement room. This contained the water turbine. A small steam plant was located on the right side in an extension to the building. We used the upper rooms as studios for R.B. G., Albert and myself.
The windows of the back rooms overlooked the millpond and water fall. There was always the lovely sound of running water. At the end of the road was the crossroad to New Canaan on the left, and to Wilton on the right, over a small bridge.
July 1 to 4 of 1910, the Gruelle Family and friends celebrated Justin’s twenty-first birthday with a picnic, swimming, fishing and fireworks at their newly purchased home and art studios along the Silvermine River.
Johnny and Myrtle came from Cleveland for a vacation visit and later decided to move to Silvermine. They lived in the old mill studios while their new home was being built along the pond above the Wilton Road Bridge, where Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy were created.
1910-1917: Early Professional Years in Silvermine
Justin, his father R.B.G. and later Johnny were part of a group of painters living and working in Silvermine, known as “The Knockers”. They gathered for weekly critiques of each other’s work and held annual exhibitions, the precursor of The Silvermine Guild of Artists.
From Justin’s memoirs:
At Mr. Borglum’s studio each Sunday morning artists of the colony meet, bringing work of the week for mutual criticism. An annual exhibition attracts many visitors from neighboring cities.
March 6,1911 from The Indianapolis Star:
1913, Mr. and Mrs. Richard B. Gruelle returned to their Indianapolis home. Following a stroke R. B. Gruelle died in November, 1914 at age 63. In the last exhibit [of The Knockers], Mr. Gruelle’s youngest son, Justin Gruelle, had the honor of the first sale. His painting, “The Old Homestead,” was highly praised, and a great future is predicted for him as a landscape painter.
In 1917, Justin married Mabel Claire Brown in Indianapolis, Indiana. Mabel studied art and graduated from Manual Training High School. She studied china painting and taught classes in Indianapolis, New York, and Norwalk, Connecticut.
1917 – 1936: Working in Manhattan, Living in Silvermine
Justin was an illustrator in the art department of the Kelly Springfield Tire Company of Manahattan, doing magazine covers and posters. He is known for a series of full page advertising illustrations used in Broadway Theater Playbills.
The head of the art department was Clarence deGeirs, who later commissioned Justin to do eight murals for his Liquidometer Company.
In 1924, daughter Jayne Hildegard was born in New York City
Justin and his wife Mabel designed and built their dream home / studio on Yew Lane, Seir Hill overlooking Silvermine valley, where they continued the annual July 4th picnic gathering of family and friends.
In 1927, son John Paul Gruelle was born (He studied photography and worked as a career baker with Pepperidge Farms).
1929: A Mother Goose Parade
This children’s book was written and illustrated by Justin C. Gruelle, and published in 1929 by The P.F. Volland Company, Joliet, Illinois. The frontispiece illustration shows his wife Mabel, son John Paul and Jayne Hildegard holding a Raggedy Ann doll in front of their Yew Lane home with Mother Goose looking on. The book was well reviewed but never had a second edition because the company went out of business during The Great Depression.
Original pencil drawings have been preserved at The Baldwin Library of Historical Children’s Literature, University of Florida, Gainesville. An 80th Anniversary facsimile edition has been published by the family to accompany The Gruelle Family Art Exhibit at The New Canaan Historical Society.
1932 – 1933
Justin and Mabel were students of Theosophy and Justin served as President of the Silvermine Lodge and Mabel taught instruction classes.
During the winter of 1933, Justin and Mabel, their children, and Mrs. Gruelle, spent the winter with brother Johnny and Myrtle at their home on Miami Beach. Justin painted watercolors, oils, a self-portrait, and an exceptional portrait of his mother with hand carved frame.
1934 -1936: Connecticut WPA Artist
Five large Mark Twain murals were painted in 1935 – 1936 under the auspices of The Federal Art Project of the Works Progress Administration for Norwalk public schools. They have been restored and are prominently displayed in the Norwalk City Hall lobby, as part of the nation’s largest collection of WPA murals.
From Justin’s memoirs:
When the Great Depression struck the country in 1933 and the W.P.A. was established, I did three mural projects for the art section. The Aladdin and the Lamp painting was placed in the Children’s Room of the South Norwalk Library. The Chinese Nightingale triptych is in The Norwalk Public Library.
1936- 1938 New Canaan Schools
A large oil panel, 19’ x 4’, is on the wall of The Wagner Room of the New Canaan High School. It has twenty-one portraits of historic figures surrounding a teacher image and two students with the quotation from Aristotle, “All who have meditated on the art of governing mankind have been convinced that the fate of empires depends on the education of youth.”
Five Aesop’s Fables were painted for the walls of the historic Little Red School. They have been restored and on view at New Canaan Historical Society. Shortly after they were finished, his own artwork picked up again and he was able to get off the government project.
1938 – 1939: Illustrations
1938 Death of older brother, Johnny
Justin was hired by the publisher to illustrate five unpublished Raggedy Ann and Andy manuscripts, Raggedy Ann and the Golden Butterfly, Raggedy Ann and Betsy Bonnet String, Raggedy Ann in the Snow White Castle, Raggedy Ann’s Picture Book and Raggedy Ann and Mr. Hoppy Toad that had been written before his brother Johnny’s death.
1939-1940 New York World’s Fair
In collaboration with New York celebrity artist Clara Fargo Thomas Justin helped paint three major murals for the U.S. Steel Corporation, IBM and Westinghouse Pavilions.
He also collaborated with Clara Fargo Thomas in a large sailing ship mural for her home on Mount Desert Island, Maine.
1940- 2006: The Liquidometer Corporation Murals
1940: Clarence A. deGiers, President of The Liquidometer Corporation, Justin’s former boss at Kelly Springfield Tire Company, commissioned him to paint four large murals for the lobby of his Long Island City headquarters.
Four smaller murals were also commissioned for their manufacturing plant in Bellows Falls, Vermont. Only one of the eight is known to exist.
One of the Corporate Headquarters Murals, known as The Early Birds, is an 18’ x 7’ canvass mural with seventeen life-size portraits of some of the men who made aviation history and their aircraft.
Spring 1955: the Early Birds canvas was removed from the lobby wall, replaced with a photomural, and presented to the Western Headquarters of the Institute of the Aeronautical Sciences (IAS) in Los Angeles, and later moved to San Diego.
November 1969: The Early Birds was presented to the National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
A letter from Mr. Robischon to Justin Gruelle about the Early Birds:
The mural has finally come to its permanent resting place of honor beneath Lindberg’s Spirit of St. Louis.
1945-1955: Corporate Manhattan
Justin worked in the art department of R.K.O. Pictures (United Artists) and Walt Disney Productions, and commuted by train into Manhattan from South Norwalk. He Illustrated movie posters and cartoon stills.
He painted a series of historical corporate portraits for Barnes and Nobel Book Company and had many other commissions for portraits from his Silvermne studio.
The Gruelles created a series of silkscreen Christmas and note cards and continued living and working in their Silvermine studio/home until 1956.
1954-1956 Recently Retired and Westward Bound
Tired of Connecticut snow-bound winters, Mabel and Justin Gruelle drove to Indianapolis to visit family and friends and on to Sedona, Arizona to visit grandchildren.
November – December 1954, they rented an apartment in Altadena, California near international headquarters, The Theosophical Society and Press, Pasadena. Gruelle had earlier been president of their Silvermine Connecticut lodge.
He created drawings in color, black and white for a children’s book, Once Round The Sun, painted a portrait of Theosophical Society Leader Colonel Arthur Conger, and printed a silk-screen image of their headquarters building.
During the first half of 1955, Gruelle’s Early Bird’s Mural history of early aviation, commissioned in 1940 by Clarence deGiers for the lobby of Liquidometer Corporation in Long Island City, NY, was presented to western headquarters, Institute of Aeronautical Sciences, (IAS) in Los Angeles. DeGiers asked Gruelle to paint an additional panel for the mural and supervise its installation.
1955: Justin Gruelle and Mabel were asked to extend their California visit for recognition at the Fifth International Aeronautical Conference Banquet, Los Angeles. Winter 1955-1956 was spent near Sedona, Arizona, and Altadena, California, where Justin added new sections to The Early Bird mural and illustrated children’s books for the Theosophical Press.
1956: Justine and Mable sold their Silvermine home and permanently moved to California.
A 6’ by 9 ½’ wall map of the historic Silvermine area surrounding their home was painted by Justin and mounted above the fireplace in their large living room studio. When the house was sold, they left the mural for the new owners, who later presented it to The Norwalk Art Museum. It is now permanently installed in the conference room and is used to illustrate talks about the history and development of Norwalk for tour groups.
1956 – 1978 Alpine, California
Mabel Brown Gruelle, Christmas card, 1956:
“We returned to California to find a home. In less than a week we had decided on this place in Alpine which we love and were moving before the month was out”. This is the view from the north side of our place and the whole underside is Justin’s studio, workshop and dark room.“
August 2, 1957, San Diego Evening Tribune:
“A pair of 7’ x 12’ murals were hung yesterday in the Institute of Aeronautical Sciences Building at 3380 North Harbor Drive. They depict early days of naval aviation. They are being displayed as part of the national aviation week meeting here next week. The murals present a graphic picture of old naval aircraft and some of the pioneers. Gruelle painted both of the murals in a little more than six weeks. He said it usually takes him about six months to paint murals of this size.”
The Aeronautical Science Building was later closed, and the murals were moved to an unknown location, probably in somewhere in California. (?)
1957: The Mythology and History of Flight
Executives of west coast aviation manufacturing companies were impressed with Gruelle’s technical and artistic skills in creating the Early Birds and History of Naval Aviation murals. They encouraged him to do research on the mythology and history of flight and create designs for decorative mural panels for a proposed National Air and Space Museum, for Washington, DC or on the West Coast. Gruelle did extensive historical research and created pencil and chalk sketches for five mural panels for the proposed museum.
August 1958: Portrait of Major Rueben H. Fleet
In May, 1918 Major Fleet was the first pilot to fly U.S. mail by air, from New York to Washington, DC. Gruelle’s portrait of Convair Corporation CEO was on view at Rueben H. Fleet Aeronautical Library, Institute of Aeronautical Sciences branch, North Harbor Drive, San Diego. When the San Diego building was closed, the painting was moved to San Diego Air and Space Museum, Balboa Park.
1959: Stations of the Cross Paintings for Queen of Angels Catholic Church, Alpine
Justin had strong religious and spiritual beliefs. Although not Roman Catholic, he and the local priest became good friends and had long discussions about how artists through the ages had interpreted Jesus Christ, his life, death and resurrection. He painted near-life-size images of his version of the fourteen stations of the cross as his contribution to the new community church. The priest contributed masonite panels and paint. Family members and locals served as models.
June 1961: El Cajon Valley News, by Jean Hedger
These paintings picturing scenes in the life of Jesus have a depth of intensity and color not seen in the painter’s other work. They go from light to darkness and back again; they have no beginning and no end; they are limitless in time and space. This is beauty balanced with the quality of creation. Of all Gruelle’s self-termed ‘impersonal record keeping’ this is probably the portion of his work that will be remembered longest. It is his only venture into the field of religious art.”
April 1960: Justin won first prize for a portrait painting at the annual La Mesa Foothills Art Association Membership Show.
June 1960: Tea honoring Justin at La Mesa Fine Arts Center:
The artist’s work now on display includes landscapes and winter scenes painted near his former home in Connecticut and in mountain country near Alpine. Watercolors, oils, and pastels are his media. Portraits are shown in the one man show and a self portrait is included.
1960 – 1965: Mabel and Justin created a cottage industry of serigraph greeting note cards with views of Alpine. These included two views of Catholic Church, two of Community Church, downtown Alpine, Women’s Club and Victoria Rock. San Diego views include Balboa Park, Father Junipero Serra Mission Museum and his statue.
May 1967: Letter from Justin Gruelle to Bill Smart:
In the last letter from Dr. Paul Garber (Assistant Director, Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Washington) he spoke of future decorations for the new Washington Air and Space Museum building. He mentioned the series of pencil sketches and research that I had done on the history of flight in 1957, which he liked extremely well.
Justin’s original research and detailed pencil and chalk sketches were sent to the Smithsonian and their receipt was acknowledged. They were never used, never returned, and there is no record that they existed within the Smithsonian. Photocopies and his notes are among Justin’s personal notebooks.
May 1970: Gruelle’s Early Birds mural added to the collection of Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Washington DC. Rolled-up canvas shipped by Railway Express from California to DC.
From Justin’s memoirs:
The transfer of ownership of the “Early Birds” panel has finally taken place and the painting is now in the National Air and Space Museum at the Smithsonian. That a piece of Gruelle family ‘handiwork’ should become a part of the Smithsonian collection is a pleasant thought.
December 1970: Letter from E. W. Robischon, National Air and Space Museum:
At long last we have finished the restoration of your mural and placed it on display in the National Air and Space Museum. The photograph is taken from a position under Lindberg’s airplane while the Wright Flyer is suspended ahead of Lindbergh’s airplane and to the right. The Early Bird mural is therefore in the most prominent spot of the museum.
December 1970: Justin Gruelle letter to Bill Smart
The Early Bird organization held their yearly reunion in Washington this year and a number of group pictures were taken in front of our “brain child.” We feel that all this is a nice New Year’s present given to us.
1971- 1978: Disappearances and Disapointments
Early 1971: Sale of Liquidometer Corporation in New York and Vermont
An 18’ x 7’ photocopy of the Early Birds panel had replaced the original canvas when removed in 1955.
After its 1970 – 1971 exhibition at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, the Early Birds mural was placed in storage awaiting Congressional appropriations for the construction of a new Air and Space Museum on the Mall.
No information was available to Justin as to disposition of his three remaining 1940’s American Scientists and Inventors murals in the lobby of Liquidometer Corporation, Long Island City, New York.
There was no information on the four 1950’s landscape murals in Liquidometer’s manufacturing facility in Bellows Falls, Vermont.
September 16, 1971, Justin Gruelle Letter to E.W. Robischon, Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum:
I have your letter with its thought of me doing some future panels to go along with the Early Bird painting. My physical capacity and artistic expertness for doing a serious mural painting is no longer with me. What a wonderful project this would have been if I were twenty years younger! But I fear old Father Time can’t lesson my eighty-two years.
1974: Gruelle’s eight WPA 1936 – 1938 murals in schools and libraries of Norwalk, Connecticut were moved to storage. Six Mark Twain murals, Aladdin and his lamp, and Chinese Nightingale murals were awaiting funds for conservation, restoration and relocation.
May 1974: Death of Mabel Brown Gruelle in Alpine. Her hand-painted china is on view in museums and private collections. Cremains interred in Gruelle Family plot, Crown Hill Cemetery, Indianapolis, Indiana, no marker.
1975, Little Red School House, New Canaan, CT was closed. The disposition of Gruelle’s five Aesop’s Fables of the 1936 WPA murals was never resolved and only one piece has since been located.
1975: The WPA mural illustration of Aristotle’s Quotation about the importance of Education was removed from the New Canaan High School Library for possible restoration and placement in a new building.
1975: Grand Opening of new Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. The Early Bird mural was not part of the historic exhibition, and the museum did not disclose its whereabouts.
1975: God’s Acre Mural, New Canaan Green, 25’ x 8’ 7” was commissioned in 1952 by Union Trust Bank, later First Union Bank. The bank closure and restaurant opening was announced, with removal of mural.
1977: Justin lived in San Diego, near his daughter Jayne. During the 1977 holidays, Justin told his nephew Bill Smart that he would be reaching his 89h year in July, and added, “It will soon be time to pass-over.”
1978: In January, nephew Bill Smart visited Justin in San Diego. They drove through Old Town to see the Mission and statue of Father Juniperro Sierra, and visited San Diego Air and Space Museum in Balboa Park to view the Major Fleet portrait. They drove along the Pacific Ocean and watched the lingering afterglow of colors from a beautiful sunset as the sky changed to reveal a galaxy of stars in the universe beyond.
Justin showed Bill his archival scrapbooks with photos, clippings and recollections of a lifetime of creative works. He admitted to feeling disappointed that so many of his murals and other works were “lost” or no longer on view. However, he emphasized his satisfaction that he had the vision and the pleasure of creating them. His nephew Bill promised that he would make every effort to continue to search for his favorite Early Birds mural and other lost works of art.
February 1978: Justin was saddened to learn that his prized portrait of Major Fleet was destroyed in a devastating fire at San Diego Air and Space Museum in Balboa Park.
April 20, 1978: Death of Justin C. Gruelle in San Diego. His cremains are interred with no marker at Crown Hill Cemetery, Indianapolis, Indiana in the Gruelle family plot next to his wife, Mabel and parents, Alice and Richard B. Gruelle.
AFTERGLOW: The Legacy Continues
1980: When the National Air and Space Museum moved into its new building, the mural’s size) did not fit into any present or future exhibition plan, nor any available storage facility. The Early Birds mural was loaned and later de-accessed to Dorchester County Heritage Museum, Cambridge, Maryland.
1980-1995: The mural’s whereabouts was unknown by the artist and his family
1995: After years of searching, his nephew Bill discovered The Early Birds mural
in the Dorchester County Museum, Cambridge, Maryland. The mural was located high on a wall of an old airplane hangar on the former Francis DuPont estate, now property of the University of Maryland.
1998: Justin Gruelle’s personal scrapbooks viewed by Bill Smart 20 years after his uncle’s death when they were presented to him by Justin’s daughter, Jayne Gruelle Comerford, of Bandon, Oregon: “You will know what to do with these.”
2001, Eight Gruelle W.P.A. murals were restored and exhibited in Norwalk, CT City Hall Gallery and libraries.
2002: The Early Birds mural found in Maryland was presented to Bill to find a permanent home.
2003: The Early Birds mural was donated to the Indianapolis Historic Society and exhibited in the lobby during 100th anniversary celebration of Wright Brothers’ first flight, since Wilbur was born in Indiana. It then returned to storage awaiting results of a fund raising campaign. Cover story, Traces magazine, Spring, 2003. Article had widespread distribution on the internet.
2006: McGaw Foundation in Seattle, Washington requested Indiana Historical Society to loan or sell mural for exhibition at Museum of Flight, Seattle. Extensive conservation and restoration at Indianapolis Museum was paid for by McGaw Foundation, and was eventually shipped to Seattle.
2007: The Early Birds was permanently installed in The Museum of Flight, Seattle, Washington.
2009, – 2010 New Canaan, Connecticut Historical Society Galleries had an exhibit of Justin C. Gruelle and family art from September 2009 until February 2010. Bill Smart spoke about the Silvermine years of the family.
2009-2010: 80th Anniversary edition, A Mother Goose Parade, written and illustrated by Justin Gruelle. Facsimile edition of original 1929 P. F. Volland Company children’s book was published for distribution during New Canaan Historical Exhibit.
Justin’s original pencil drawings with color were on loan from Baldwin Library of Children’s Literature Collection, University of Florida, Gainesville. Books available from museum book stores or from nephew Bill Smart: email@example.com
December 2011: Donation of Diane and Bill Smart Collection of Justin Gruelle’s Connecticut paintings, illustrations and silk screen prints to City of Norwalk, Connecticut.
Now on exhibit in City Hall Galleries alongside Gruelle’s W.P. A. murals. See “Norwalk Thanks Bill Smart” interview, December 17, 2011.
2013: GRUELLE’S 25’ x 8’ mural of New Canaan Village Green which was painted in 1952 for a New Canaan bank has now been restored and permanently installed at New Canaan High School.
August 2013: Re-discovery of 3 of Gruelle’s Liquidometer 1940s “lost” murals in New York State by Bill Smart and daughter Anita. 1) Igor Sikorsky and his invention of the Helicopter, 2) Telescope on Palomar Mountain and Electron Microscope, and 3) American Inventors and Scientists are all waiting decision of current owners of the building purchased from the Liquidometer Corporation in 1971. Original lobby stairwell with the four large murals currently functions as poorly lit interior stairwell, between three floors of the building. Still missing are the four Liqidometer landscape murals originally installed in the manufacturing plant in Bellows Falls, Vermont. It is believed they were given to employees when the building was sold in 1971.
February 2014: Bill Smart spoke at the Alpine Historical Society about work of Justin and Mabel Gruelle during their California years, 1955 -1978.