MILLER, JOHN E. (1870-1935)
Charles Theodore Greener's oil paintings of the area surrounding his Redfield, South Dakota, home made him a leading regional artist during the early twentieth century. His realistic prairie landscapes, painted in soft brush strokes, capture the beauty of the region's wide-open spaces, depict panoramic sunsets and sunrises, and render ordinary scenes that include geese, coyotes, hunting dogs, and other inhabitants of the Plains.
Greener was born on March 16, 1870, in a log house in Grant County, Wisconsin, the second oldest of seven children of Christian and Albina Greener. The family moved to Hand County, Dakota Territory, in 1883 and eight years later settled in Faulkton, which Greener made his home for the rest of his life. Largely self-taught as an artist, he received formal training at the University of North Dakota and at schools in Cincinnati, Minneapolis, and Galesburg, Illinois. His work was displayed at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. In 1906 Faulk County commissioned him to paint the murals for its new courthouse. He was one of two artists representing South Dakota in 1915 at the St. Paul Institute's first survey of northwestern painting, and he gained national recognition in 1932 by being selected for an exhibit entitled The American Scene in Indianapolis.
Greener supplemented his small income from commissions and sales of his paintings through a variety of business ventures, including a photo shop and a combined novelty and grocery store. In 1900 he married W. Florence Jones; they had one child, Dorothy. He engaged actively in community affairs, serving as a deacon in the Congregational church, singing in the church choir, and joining the Masonic Lodge. He was a member of the city council at the time of his death on July 4, 1935.
John E. Miller South Dakota State University
Lewis, Dale. "Early South Dakota Artist Is Regaining Popularity." Dakota West 12 (1986): 20–22.