Meadowlark Gallery: The Artist Biographies

John Edward Borein a.k.a. Edward Borein (1872-1945)
John Edward Borein was born in San Leandro, California in 1872 and died in Santa Barbara, California, in 1945. Ed Borein was known as "The cowpuncher artist," illustrator, etcher, and writer. He was the son of a county politician and was educated in the Oakland area schools. A poor student, he left at 17 for a job with a saddler where he learned about gear and he braided riatas. After working at odd jobs on a local ranch, he attended the San Francisco Art Association Art School for one month in 1891, meeting Swinnerton and Maynard Dixon there. When he hired on at a cattle ranch, the first sketches he sold in 1896 were printed in the Los Angeles "The Land of Sunshine," as "illustrated by Ed Borein, a vaquero on the Jesus Maria Rancho, Santa Barbara Co.". Borein's reference when he left the ranch that year recommended him as "of sober and industrious habits, and a competent Vacquero. He continued to sketch at his next job in Malibu where the owner financed a trip to Mexico for 1897 to 1899. Some of the Mexican drawings have double lines and double signatures--pencil on the spot by day and ink at night. He returned to Oakland via New Mexico and Arizona, becoming staff artist on the San Francisco Call at $8.00 per week. In 1901, he teamed with Maynard Dixon on a sketching trip north through the Sierras, Carson City, Oregon, and Idaho. Mexico drew him again in 1903, and there he began painting watercolors on the backs of photographic prints. Returning, he sketched his way through Pueblo Indian country. In 1904, Borein rented an Oakland studio, specializing in illustrations of Mexico and in advertising display cards. He turned out dozens of oils of uneven quality. A few pieces of sculpture were also attempted. By 1907 Oakland was lacking of stimulating activity. Borein went to New York City where his studio in the theatrical district was a gathering point for Swinnerton, Russell, Leo Carrillo, Will Rogers, Dixon, Will James, Olaf Seltzer, Carl Oscar Borg, and others. In January 1909, he went back to a studio in Oakland, sketching in Oregon in August, and was in New York City again by September. This time he was a successful illustrator for Harper's, Collier's, Sunset, Century, and Western World as well as for advertising. About 1911, Borein began etching, with advice from Hassam and Roth. Russell found work for Borein in Canada in 1912 and 1913. In New York City in 1914 and 1915, Borein studied etching with Preissig at the Art Students League. This was a time of prosperity. In 1919, he was back in Oakland, via Russell in Great Falls, Montana. He married in 1921, moved to Santa Barbara, and kept his base there, this gray-eyed man with glasses, 5 feet, 7 inches, who weighed about 160 lbs., and wore cowboy gear, boots, string tie, and Stetson.
View high resolution images of works by John Edward Borein when available.