ADELAIDE JAFFREY LAWSON GAYLOR (American, 1889-1986)

Adelaide Lawson, born in New York City in 1889, was a painter who studied at the Art Students League and with Kenneth Hayes Miller and was active during the Harlem Renaissance. She came from an affluent, academic family that included her brother, the screenwriter and playwright John Howard Lawson. An interesting mystery surrounds Lawson's background in that although she is listed in the Bio-bibliographical Dictionary of Afro-American Artists, and although she participated in the Tanner Art League exhibit of 1922 that was organized by African-American artists in Washington, D.C. in honor of African-American artist Henry Ossawa Tanner, Lawson was not considered black by her family or descendents. She and her husband, artist Wood Gaylor, counted among their group of friends Josephine Baker, William and Marguerite Zorach, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Walt Kuhn and John Dos Passos. She was a member of the Society of Independent Artist, the Salons of America and the New York Society of Women Artists. Lawson exhibited extensively with the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Society of Independent Artists and the Salons of America. She also exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and held a retrospective solo show in New York in 1982 at the age of 93. She was married to the artist Samuel Wood Gaylor who was also a prominent painter and they spent summers together in Glenwood Landing starting in 1932. Both Gaylors were very active in the New York art scene and some of their colleagues included Marsden Hartley, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, whom she studied with at the Art Students League, Hamilton Easter Field, Robert Laurent, William and Marguerite Zorach, Jules Pascin, Stefan Hirsch, Pop Hart, Walt Kuhn, Peggy Bacon, Mrs. Harry Payne Whitney, Betty and John Dos Passos, Fiorello La Guardia and Josephine Baker. The Gaylors made the permanent move to Glenwood Landing in 1934. At some point they traveled through Europe together and there are surviving sketchbooks of their notes and drawings they took during the trip. Early in her career was an exciting era when artists were intoxicated with the freedoms they felt. They learned from European examples how to create arbitrary color and formal relationships using their own inventions. These lessons helped to develop a sensitivity for interpreting observation with a vocabulary based on the modernist approach to abstracting rhythms, simplifying descriptions, flattening, generalizing color, eliminating shadow and building an emphatic surface harmony between forms “ all that can be seen in Gaylor's work. Adelaide and her husband held exhibitions in their barn and she also taught classes there. Painting up until the end, Adelaide Lawson Gaylor died in Glenwood Landing in 1986.

Studied 
Art Students League 
With Kenneth Hayes Miller 

Exhibited
Society of Independent Artists, 1917-22, 1924-45
Powell Art Gallery, 1919 Tanner Art League, 1922
Salons of America, 1922, 1924-30, 1932-36
Whitney Museum of American Art, 1922-28
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts Annual, 1926
Gallery 134, 1925 (solo)
Downtown and the Midtown Galleries, New York City
Whitney Studio Club
Gallery Odin, New York, 1979
Lakewood Gallery, New York, 1982 (solo)
Tanner Art League, 1922
Madrid, Spain, 1966-67
Emily Lowe Award Competition
J. Wanamaker Gallery of Modern Decorative Art, 1920s

Member 
Society of American Independent Artists 
Salons of America 
New York Society of Women Artists 
Hempstead Harbor Artists Association 
The Dialis 

References 
Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution 
Wolf, New York Society of Women Artists 1925 
Saylor, "Adelaide Lawson, Art Review, April 1922 
Harley, "Checklist of Afro-American Art & Artists, The Serif, December 1970
Falk (ed.), Who Was Who in American Art 1564-1975
American Art Annual, Volume 30
Falk (ed.), The Annual Exhibition Record of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts 1914-1968
Marlor, The Society of Independent Artists: The Exhibition Record 1917-1944
Falk (ed.), The Annual & Biennial Exhibition Record of the Whitney Museum of American Art 1918-1989
Opitz (ed.), Mantle Fielding's Dictionary of American Painters, Sculptors & Engravers
Mallett (ed.), Index of Artists International Biographical
Petteys, Dictionary of Women Artists: An International Dictionary of Women Artists Born Before 1900
Cedarholm, Afro-American Artists: A Bio-Bibliographical Dictionary
Archives of American Art: A Collection of Exhibition Catalogues
Braff, "An Adventurous Landscapist at 93, New York Times, September 12, 1982, Long Island Section, p.17
Vasari, "Vasari Diary, Art News, January 1980