Vernon Kerr Signature
Vernon Lee Kerr • 1938-1982 • California Artist


[photo of Vernon Kerr, age 17]

[photo of paintings] 

Vernon Kerr, age 17, 1955

Paintings done at this age.

[photo of Vernon, age 19] 

Vernon Kerr, age 19, 1957

Note on back of photo by his Mother, Mary Kerr (1900-1999):
"When we lived in South Gate [California], Dad & I built this little studio for him & he planted the roses in the yard. He was hard working. Mowed yards, made signs to pay for his lessons."


[photo of painting of navy boat]

USS Jason shipmates Vernon Kerr and Bob LaFleur in front of mural.
(From the USS Jason 1959 cruisebook, courtesy of Bob LaFleur)

From Bob LaFleur: "Here is picture 2 from the cruise book. Bill Deering was our official photographer. We're in the photo lab. I used to move around the division and do different work. Vernon was our official draftsman and had a small room that was his. I was a draftsman "striker" (meaning I went to school for drafting and would eventually become a "Draftsman" when I was promoted. So occasionally I would work with Vernon preparing some drawings. Years later this experience actually helped me become a draftsman."

four sailors sitting at cocktail table

From left to right: Bob LaFleur, Bill Deering (photographer), Vernon, and Dennis Dinnel (sp?).
From Bob LaFleur: "We are in a bar in Tiajuana. I think the pic was taken by a club photographer. Notice your dad having a drink and a cigarette! But he was always very conservative."

Note on back of this photo by his mother, the late Mary Kerr:
"This is not a photograph. This is an oil painting done by your father at 20 years old [1958] & given to his [Navy] Captain on this ship he was on. I don't remember the name of the ship."

The ship is the USS Jason out of San Diego. The Kerr family heard from Bob LaFleur, one of Vernon's shipmates about the ship and he provided several photos and precious memories of working with Vernon. Said Bob LaFleur:

"I was a friend of Vernon's. We went to drafting school together at Port Hueneme Calif. and were stationed together on the USS Jason out of San Diego. We worked together in the drafting room and the photo lab.

Vernon was very interested in photography for his work. We had a mutual respect because of my art ability. However, I never took my talent seriously until many years later when I got into commercial art at the Eastman Kodak Company, in Rochester, NY.

Years later when I retired and moved to Phoenix, I saw Vernon's name in an art gallery ad. I called trying to find an address for him and was told about his demise. I was very hurt about that.

We had made promises about getting together when I was discharged but as young men we didn't follow through.

On weekends when we had "duty" together we would hang out. He would paint in our small area and we would listen to music. Many times he offered to teach me how to paint but I always said some other time. I sometimes traveled with him on weekends to visit galleries where he sold work. He always seemed to be very successful and a hard worker.I also visited his parents with him once.

I have several pictures of him and us aboard the Jason. [From the 1958 cruise book published by the Jason]

He painted two pictures of our ship for the officers' lounge. One was given to a retiring captain (Captain Ramey?),the other may still be on board. I have a B&W photo of the second painting. [Which is likely the one pictured at left]

We lost touch after our discharges but I never forgot him."

Bob LaFleur also shared:

"A fond memory I have of Vernon was when we decided one day to take a drive down into Mexico. Just the two of us. We went farther south than Tijuana but I can't remember the name of the town. We were strolling about when we came upon, I think, three guys who were in the process of trying to decorate a window for Christmas. They had some stencils and a few colors to work with. Well, Vernon somehow explained to them that he would like to do something for them. They spoke no english, but agreed. He got them to show him how to spell Merry Christmas in Spanish. He then created this great window with Santa and Great script lettering, holly leaves, etc. Their jaws were on the ground. ...

"Vernon used to sell his small pictures for $50 and the larger ones (30 inch?) for a $100. He sold them as fast as painted them, at galleries. They begged him to bring more. I always knew he was going to be very successful.

"On a funny side, he used to take dancing lessons. When he walked into the room some of the guys would begin to ask him some questions about some concern they had about a dance step. He was always willing to "share" his knowledge and would go into a dance routine to help us out. It was all in good fun."

[photo of Vernon and truck] 

Vernon Kerr and his
work truck, 1960

(see article
"Truck to Advertise Laguna" in
Laguna Beach, CA newspaper)
[photo of gallery] 

  "Key Arts Gallery featuring Vernon Kerr ,"
South Coast Highway,
Laguna Beach, Calif.,
[photo of art festival booth]

Vernon Kerr booth at
Laguna Beach art festival.

August 1961 

  Vernon Kerr teaching
an art class, Laguna Beach

 [photo of Vernon, 1967]

 Vernon Kerr in gallery, 1967

Vernon Kerr Art Gallery, Laguna Beach, Calif.1969

Vernon Kerr at entry of gallery.

Below, Vernon's mother, the late Mary Kerr
and late sister Marlene Martin (Franklin) 

[photo of mother and sister]

Kerr family at dining table
Vernon Kerr (right) with his four children in 1977.
Left to right: Walter, Carrie, Grace and Merritt.


Return to Vernon Kerr signature Homepage