Gregory is noted as one of the pioneers of ceramic
sculptures in the US and abroad
and enjoyed many awards and museum exhibitions.
In the latter part of his life he did glass and
He was born in Baxter Spring,
Kansas & began at age 16 designing and making molds
which were cast in plaster. These were
decorative ornamentals for local buildings. By age
18 he was sculptor for the Hotel President in
Kansas City, Missouri. He was swift at his task and
created hundreds of interior designs but placed his
greatest effort on the 4th floor Aztec Dining Room.
The innovative hotel received much publicity
and the Aztec Room was featured in the National
Architectural Magazine in NYC. He replicated the
Montazuma plaque (calendar stone) after much research.
He dedicated this room to his teacher Elsie Bowman by
engraving her name on the fountain in the Aztec Room.
He was a very shy lad and it was she who realized his
artistic ability and inspired, influenced and encouraged
him to pursue his dream of being a sculptor.
Sculptures Designed for the Hotel Roosevelt
Left: One of severl columns with cherrubs; location main entrance.
Right: Located on fourth floor in the Aztec room. Best I could do with the
old black & white negatives.
After this Gregory became designer and sculptor for the St. Joseph
Missouri Theater, now historical. In 1996 the old theater received funding
and the exterior was restored. It has recently received l.9 million for its further
restoration and for the past months construction workers have been repairing, painting
and updating the interior for opening day March 19, 2002. In charge of the restoration:
Ellison-Auxier Architects Inc. of St.Joseph.
Wally Bloss, Executive Director of the Allied Arts Council noted that
"its a piece of our historical past that can be made functional and should continue
on". I thank Wally for sending me photos of the restorations and keeping me informed.
Mr. Wineinger, foreman for E. L. Crawford Construction Co. stated:
"We're trying to go back to the original as best we can,"
On opening day a gala event took place at this newly renovated theater.
Outside the theater 1920 automobiles were parked and many were in attendance.
On exhibition was Portraiture of Yolande with Earing by Waylande Gregory;
life size 1930's shown below.
Below is table showing sculpture along with a few art deco wares
and news articles on Gregory for viewing by the public.
The first film shown at the theater was "Rough House Rosie"
staring Clara Bow date was June 1927.
Shown below is Rose Koeppen who portrayed Clara Bow at the
opening. According to Mr. Bloss she has the same hair
color, size and demeanor and was a perfect fit for representation.
She is the president of Robidoux Resident Theater. A community
theater group that uses the Missouri Theater.
Dress costume was made especially for this event.
Decorative theme of the theater in the late 1920's included
the Hittite, Assyrian, Persian and Arabian; into a creation of original
ornamentation. Gregory blended the styles into a decorative embellishment
in harmony with the spirit of the architecture. The theater has unusual
and unique forms of architecture, art and colors. For that era, 1927,
it was something new and yet quite old.
Gregory credits Mr. Boller architect for his liberal
views and Mr. Engle for his delving into historical events. Both
gave Gregory the necessary freedom in designing the sculptural details
to combine the complex influence of styles selected.
The interior represented an open air playhouse
with all the atmospheric splendor of a royal palace
of one of the ancient kings. Over the
top stretched a huge tented canopy, gloriously decorated.
Looking beyond the tent was the sky with star lights.
A new lighting system was put in place.
The gold overlay ropes to the canopy is about 12"dia.
This is all so very impressive.
Like artists on canvas, painters revive colors tarnished and dulled over the
years with fresh paint, adding life to the intricate plaster details throughout
the theater. The construction crew met regularly to talk about the project,
reviewing old photographs and attempting to accurately restore history.
Another view of the huge canopy
Close to the canopy workers moving planks around.
Even the ceiling paint underneath the balcony is intricate. Yes, it's pink ...
in keeping with the theater's original color scheme of the 1920s.
Note the vibrant colors of the combination of oranges and pinks.
Below is photo of mezzanine ceiling.
On either side of the large screen are large carved figures of
the sacred winged bull bearing the head of a glorified dignitary
of the royal house; photo below that's me when I visited the theater
several years back.
Above the stage proscenium is a border of phallic gods fertilizing
the female tree of life. The design is behind worker on the scaffold.
A frieze around the sides represent sacrificial rams
kneeling before the tree of mystery.
Another frieze represents the conflict of opposing archers.
The designs are richly colored with the vigorous
ceramic mineral reds, blues and sun baked yellows.
Smoothing out the edges of a freshly poured plaster rosette, workers for Collins Plastering Inc.,
made new molds for restoring the architectural details inside the theater.
Finished and in place.
Giving new life to an old column, Butch Dulaban of Atchison, Kan., with Thompson G.A.
Painting & Contracting Inc., is one of the many painters helping refurbish the historical
theater. On most days, about 30 different workers were laboring away on the building's
The theater is located on 717 Edmond in St.Joseph. If in the area or taking a mid-western
trip its worth including it in your itinerary. The performing arts include:
St.Joseph Symphony and/or various choral groups etc. The theater is accessible for the handicap.
The sound and lighting systems is state of the art.
During this period, Gregory caught the attention of Loredo Taft, noted historian and sculptor,
who was known to encourage young talent and was invited to share Taft's Midway Studios
in Chicago; a complex of units which contained much marble cutting and other facilities.
Gregory was taught the academic tradition of sculpture in marble, bronze and ceramics. He
also traveled with Taft for European studies. Taft was a father figure and benefactor to
the young Gregory. While in Chicago, Gregory had designed decorative works for Cowan
Potteries and several years later joined them as full time Designer. During his
stay in Chicago he did permanent works for the Chicago Theological Seminary; titled
Christian Symbolism. The sculpted portals can be seen:
DEATH MASK OR SHOULD I SAY LIFE MASK OF WAYLANDE GREGORY
In 1922 at age 17. Gregory was on both sides of the plaster, inside and out. He learned
the technique early in his career and did many masks of face & hands of both the living
and the dead. When his very dear friend Vally Wieseltiere died he did her hands. It was
an emotional strain for him as was the death mask of his father which he did in
the basement of the undertaker in a small town in Kansas.
In a column written by Gregory he warns the amateur not to attempt this art unattended
by an experienced and well trained professional in this technique. Its a frightening ordeal
to the living subject as the plaster of paris covers one in darkness, sets into a stony
hardness and gets rather hot and can burn and irritate. It takes considerable restraint
to resist tearing the plaster away and gasping for air. It's risky, one can get plaster into
the ears, eye ducts and nostrils even though the eye lashes and eye brows are heavily
covered with an oil paste. There can be considerable discomfort and the loss of some hair
in the removal of the mask. Below is Gregory's mask done by him, with assistance.
His father's death mask -- several years after Gregory's death, I mailed it to his
brother Bill -- well that's another story which I will not go into at this time.
Bather with Fish; 54"H luster white glaze with pastel
undertones back view only and also a cropped view.
Below are several sculptures Gregory executed while at
Cranbrook Academy as Resident Artist. Left is Vase
of 8-maidens; 1931, 13hx6"dia. of luster
glaze ceramic. Right: Girl with the Olive; 1932;
luster glaze ceramic; received First Prize at First
Below: Girl in Flight, luster glaze also see
for further information
Below: A glorious array of vibrant colors on jumbo
hand designed vases
A lovely portraiture of Girl with Braid, life size.
Took cover page of Art Magazine in 1936. It is a
semi-glaze white ceramic and so beautiful.
Below are a few examples of the Gregory ceramic sculptures.
Left: Swimmer; late 1930's; 12x20x8"; Ceramic with
ice blue luster glaze. Right:
Vase; early 1940's; 18x13"Dia.; matte glazed ceramic;
Knight on Black Horse.
Hand Hammered Lead Repousse, 1960's
Left: Adam & Eve: 36"h and Right: Moses 48"h
Below left: Embrace, 1960's; 36"h; hand hammered
lead repousse. Right: Female Nude Torso; 24"h,
hand hammered lead repousse.
Gregory executed over 40 metal works, which
mostly consisted of hand hammered lead and copper
repousse. He also did some very impressive wire
sculptures and one that comes to mind is a rooster,
48"h, which he set onto a block of coal. Since I
don't have a good photo of it, I have included instead,
below left, MOSES; 1960's 32"h; to the right is a
6-foot high mobile; Ballet Dancer on White Horse,
4-foot wide; 1960's. Its a combination of wire mesh
window screen, fencing material and wire, painted in
silver & white. It's innovative and although whimsical
it is very interesting and caused quite a stir when it
was on exhibition at the N.J. State Museum
along with other of the Gregory sculptures.
The mobile has a separate thin wire from its point
of origin to the top of the dancer and then separate
wires from the dancer to the horse. Since it is not
synchronized, each seem to be doing its own dance.
It fascinated the children and me too.
A few examples of the Gregory designed, incised and
painted glassware are shown below.
These were done in the 1940's; early 1950.
Gregory is noted as one of the
pioneers of the American glass movement of the 1950's.
Gregory fused clay with glass and had patented this
process which he called crystal
glaze; shown are a few of the
crystal glaze works.
Below: Men's Cologne bottles.
Glass bowls. Both late 1940's
Crystal Glaze Fish.
Mermaid Bowl (similar bowl owned by Museum
The Gregory estate has now been turned over to the nonprofit
Door of Hope, Inc. We help the battered women and children;
supply food, etc. All proceeds of the sale of his former estate
is for this charity. So if interested in any of his works; email
me and I can forward info on what is available for sale.
We give art for donation to the Door of Hope and will TRADE
ARTWORKS FOR GRANTS.
Also check out other web site: