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Birney Quick (1912-1981)


Birney McNabb Quick was born on November 9, 1912, in Proctor, Minnesota, the son of Paul Morrow and Agnes Caroline Eckert Quick. The family later moved to Duluth where he graduated from Denfeld High School in 1931.

Quick spent the early 1930s in the East, attending the Vesper George School of Art in Boston (1931-1934) and studying at several Massachusetts and New York art colonies, particularly the Barn Studio in Andover, Massachusetts, and in Woodstock, New York. He received his first honorable mention in a major art show at the Springfield (Massachusetts) Art League's annual show in January 1935. In 1936 and 1937 he was awarded the prestigious Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation fellowship (one of only eight given annually) and spent the summers studying at the Tiffany estate on Long Island, New York. In 1937 he returned to Duluth, shared a studio with fellow artist Kunte Heldner, opened a gallery, and was employed as sculpture and art instructor at the College of St. Scholastica (1938-1940).

Quick joined the Army Air Corps in June, 1943. Assigned as an air corps artist, he spent part of his tour of duty painting a series of murals at the Keesler Base, Biloxi, Mississippi. In the fall of 1946 he joined the faculty of the Minneapolis School of Art, now the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD), as a painting and drawing instructor. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the college in 1951, was promoted to associate professor in 1964 and to professor in 1973, and also taught in the school's evening program. In  November, 1973, he received an honorary Master of Fine Arts degree from MCAD and at his December, 1977, retirement was named the school's first professor emeritus.

In June, 1947, Quick and Byron Bradley of the Kilbride-Bradley Gallery, Minneapolis, began the Grand Marais (Minnesota) Outdoor School of Painting as part of the Minneapolis School of Art's summer program. During 1949-1951 the classes were held in Red Wing and Minneapolis, but the program was moved back to Grand Marais in 1952 and was rechristened the Town Hall Art Colony. In 1956 the art school terminated its sponsorship of the colony, and Quick and Bradley became its sole owners. They renamed it the Grand Marais Art Colony.

During his career Quick produced over 10,000 artworks. His work was shown in numerous one-man and group exhibitions in such galleries as Duluth's Art Institute and the Tweed Gallery; Minneapolis's Harriet Hanley Gallery, Walker Art Center, Kilbride-Bradley Gallery, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Martin Gallery, and MCAD; and the Art Institute of Chicago.

Quick was also a member of the Five Minnesota Artists traveling demonstration group (1950), had works in American Federation of Art and United States Information Service traveling exhibits, and produced watercolor illustrations for Ford Times magazine (1950s-1970). His highly acclaimed murals can be seen in buildings in Coleraine, Grand Marais, Duluth, and St. Paul, all in Minnesota. In 1975 he was named an Outstanding Educator of America.


Birney Quick passed away in Minneapolis on December 2, 1981, of complications following open heart surgery. 


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