Bruce Nelson was born in Santa Clara County, CA on June 13, 1888. Bruce Nelson came from an artistic family; his father, Jess, was a carriage painter and his mother, Emilie Bruce Nelson, sang in the Court of Jewels at the opening of the PPIE. After graduating from Washburn School in Santa Clara, he enrolled at Stanford University as an engineering student before switching to graphic arts. He then further studied in NYC at the ASL under Birge Harrison and John F. Carlson. Returning to San Francisco in 1912, he had a successful exhibition at Helgesen & Marshall Galleries. Nelson then established a studio in Pacific Grove and conducted painting classes. At the inaugural of the Oakland Art Gallery in 1916 an entire room was devoted to thirty of his paintings. During WWI he served in the Army Camouflage Corps. After his discharge in 1918, he went to Cooperstown, NY where he painted murals in the home of author James Fennimore Cooper. His homosexuality led to a split with his family about 1924. Bruce Nelson then spent the the remainder of his life in NYC; he died there in 1952. His paintings done during his latter years became increasingly modernist.
Source: Edan Hughes, "Artists in California 1786-1940"
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