Richard Blauvelt Coe

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Richard Blauvelt Coe (born 1904 in Selma, Dallas County; died 1978 in Baltimore, Maryland) was an artist and head of the Alabama section of the Works Progress Administration's art programs during the Great Depression.

Coe, the son of Richard Kent Coe and grandson of Richard Blauvelt Coe (1834-1894), was raised in Selma and attended grade school there before he was sent to Castle Heights Military Academy in Tennessee. He studied architecture for a year at the University of Cincinnati. In 1925 he won a Birmingham Allied Arts Club / Birmingham News-Age-Herald scholarship to study at the Grand Central School of Art in New York. He continued his studies with Philip Hale at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts. There he impressed two visiting British instructors, Rodney Burne and Robin Guthrie, who helped him win a Page Traveling Scholarship enabling him to travel and study in Europe. He and a friend toured Italy, Germany, France, Denmark, Scotland and England on bicycle. Coe also opened a small studio in Florence, Italy during that time.

On his return to the United States, Coe enrolled at the Colorado Springs Art School, but soon moved back to Birmingham where he was appointed to head the state's WPA art programs. Through that appointment he worked to complete several large murals around the state, including "Youth's Strife in the Approach to Life's Problems", which he painted with Sidney van Sheck on the proscenium of the Woodlawn High School auditorium. He also painted a series of industrial scenes documenting iron and steel manufacturing in the Birmingham District. In interviews with the press, Coe shared his belief that art should be easily approachable and enjoyable by the public. "The art world patronized by a select group which gets into trends and popular fancies is not worth considering." In the late 1930s, Coe resided in Tuscaloosa.

In his later career, Coe became interested in etching. He exhibited work throughout the United States as a member of the National Society of Etchers, and the Philadelphia and New Orleans Etching Societies. He worked as an art editor for McCall's magazine and operated a teaching studio in Mount Kisco, New York. He later joined the faculty of the Harvey School in Katonah, New York, and, in the 1960s, taught classes for the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and the Bedford Hills Art School. He and his wife moved to Baltimore before his death in 1978.


  • Colonna, Kerry (February 2005) "Richard Blauvelt Coe". - accessed November 22, 2013
  • Williams, Lynn Barstis (Winter 2008) "Richard Coe's Birmingham". Alabama Heritage. No. 87