Richard Atherstone Genders

Richard Atherstone Genders (1919-1991) [RA 1950-1991]
American painter, naval combat artist, commander, film producer, illustrator & columnist ;
[Born 1919 in London, England – died 1991 in Barker’s Creek, NC]

SAL record control number: 66678 ;

Record level: Person ;

Record type: Artist ;


Birth: 1919 in London, England ;
Death: 1991 in Barker’s Creek, NC ;
Sex: Male ;
Ethnicity: White ;

Known for: Landscape and naval paintings ; writer ; documentary filmmaker ;
Medium: Casein ; gouache ; watercolor ;
Technique: Painting ;
Subjects: Ships ; aircrafts ; men in action ; training exercises ;

Areas: London, England, 1919-1925 ; Kokomo, Indiana ; Bloomington, IN ; Norfolk, VA ; Great Lakes, IL ; Washington DC ; Barker’s Creek, NC ;
Region: European ; Midwestern ; Southern ;
Spouse: Anne ; Nancy ;
Children: 3 daughters, 1 son ;

Training: John Heron Art Institute ; Indiana University, BFA ;
Work: United States Navy, Atlantic and Pacific Theaters, Pharmacists’ Mate, Naval Combat Artist, Public Relations Officer, Commander of the Sixth Fleet, Civilian Documentary Film Producer ; Asheville Citizen-Times, Columnist ;


Member: Tidewater Art Association, President ; Salmagundi Club, New York, NY, Resident artist, 1950-1991 ;
Exhibited with: United States Naval art collection, Operation Palette, late 50s ; Jamestown Festival, 1957 ;
Awards: Lieutenant Commander, U.S. Navy ;

Milestones: Joined U.S. Navy in 1942 ; Temporarily blinded for several months in WWII ; Obtained BFA from Indiana University on the GI Bill ; On active reserve for 13 years during and after the Korean War as Naval Combat Artist and Public Relations Officer at Main Navy the Pentagon; Toured the U.S. with the Naval art collection in the late 50s ; Designed memorial stamp for Jamestown Festival in 1957; Evolved from casein painting to gouache and watercolor ; Retired in 1975 ; Continued exhibiting in U.S. and Japan post-retirement ; President of Tidewater Art Association ; Member of Salmagundi Club ; Succumbed to cancer in July 1991 ;


Richard Atherstone Genders, was born in London, England, the youngest son of a career soldier, painter, and adventurer who had enlisted as a Rough Rider during the Spanish American War, and later joined Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. The family joined their cousins and settled in Kokomo, Indiana in 1925. Dick grew up with both parents earning money by painting during the Great Depression.

Military service members sit at tables facing the center of the room, looking over documents and strategizing with wall maps.He joined the United States Navy in 1942, and served in the Atlantic and Pacific Theaters. Trained as a Pharmacists’ Mate, he was wounded in North Africa, and temporarily blinded for several months. After the war he was offered post-secondary education on the GI Bill, and it was his ability to see again that prompted him to choose art over medicine, and he attended the John Heron Art Institute. He graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts from Indiana University where he met his second wife, Anne.He reenlisted during the Korean War, and was retained on active reserve for the next 13 years, as a Naval Combat Artist painting ships, aircraft, and men in action and on training exercises; between conflicts, such as Formosa and the Cuban Missile Crisis, he was a Public Relations Officer who served in Norfolk, VA, at Main Navy and the Pentagon in Washington DC, under Admiral David MacDonald when he was the Commander of the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean, and later at Great Lakes, Illinois. He retired with the rank of Lieutenant Commander after his last position as a civilian documentary film producer for the USN in 1975. 

Stamp reading, "International naval review, U.S. postage 3 cents"His painting style evolved from a preference for casein painting in the early 50’s, to gouache and watercolor in his later years. He toured the United States with the Naval art collection, Operation Palette in the late 50’s. It was with mixed emotion that he learned that his painting, The Littlest Refugee, painted in Formosa, was the only painting stolen from the collection years later. He was also selected to design a memorial stamp in time for the Jamestown Festival in 1957, commemorating 450 years since its inception. Anne and his children supported his career with the military, Anne being an artist herself who worked at the Pentagon when Dick was stationed in Washington. She was an art director with the Army publication, Soldiers when she retired.

After retiring, Dick continued to exhibit in juried art shows and galleries throughout the United States, Europe and Japan. He had been a past president of Tidewater Art Association and a member of the Salmagundi Club in New York. He illustrated several books and was a weekly columnist for the Asheville Citizen-Times. Additional information regarding teaching positions and specific exhibits are detailed in Who’s Who in American Art (1952-83). Genders and his third wife, Nancy, resided in their mountain studio-home on Barker’s Creek near Sylva, NC when he succumbed to cancer in July 1991. Dick left three daughters and a son, and 16 grandchildren.




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December 9, 2019

Last updated: January 5, 2023 at 11:06 am