Joseph Quinn Whipple, Sr. (American, 1917-2008) was a nationally known wildlife artist and sculptor primarily known for his detailed hand-carved wildlife shadowbox creations in relief of wildlife & game birds set against his hand-panted backgrounds, as well as acrylic & watercolor paintings, and sculptures. Joe, as he was called by friends and family, was born December 18, 1917 in Canton, OH to parents Thomas and Maude Whipple, and his siblings included Thomas, Mary and Catherine. Joe graduated from McKinley High School and attended Kent State University.
With the outbreak of World War II, he enlisted in U.S. Air Force in January of 1942 and was assigned to the Air Corps. He served in France, Belgium and Germany with the 401st fighter Group of the Ninth Air Force as a Supply Technician. The Fighter Group received several citations for outstanding performance of duty, most notably for the dangerous low-altitude missions against the enemy on September 10, 1944. He was honorably discharged in 1945 as a Technical Sergeant. From his early days on the Whipple family farm, Joe developed a fascination for anything that could fly. While a soldier in England, he purchased tiles depicting hand-painted birds, giving him the idea for the shadow box line for which he became widely known.
Joe specialized in hand-carved wildlife creations in relief, which combined a painted plaster half section of the carved body of a bird or animal that would be mounted against a flat hand-painted backdrop, and then the entire artwork would usually be set into a shadow box frame. Using a molding process he learned during WWII when he was stationed in England, Whipple worked in his basement studio at his Woodland Avenue NW home in Canton, Ohio. “He started after the war, but in the 1950’s is when he really started rolling with it,” said his son Joseph Q. Whipple, Jr. After he carved an animal, Whipple would then create a silicone mold from which he could make a large number of identical plaster pieces of his various wildlife for use in later shadowbox artworks. The finished image gave the viewer a "window into the woods” in which the realistic animals appeared to be running, flying, resting etc.
Joseph was a lifelong resident of Canton, Ohio where his family had a long history. He was the grandson of the Whipple family whose farm was once located where the Canton Baptist Temple now stands on Whipple Avenue NW, which was named after them. In May of 1942, he married Nancy (née Williams) Whipple and they had four children; Joseph Jr. (Canton), Mary Jane and Joe Marmo (Schenectady, NY), Elizabeth and Roger Foote (Knoxville, TN) and Ted Whipple (San Francisco, CA). Joe enjoyed painting alongside nearby Leesville Lake in Carroll County in between fishing excursions in his beloved canoe or while camping with his family. “It was an area he really liked. He’d get a lot of his ideas for his backgrounds from Leesville and Sippo Lake,” said his son. “The backgrounds were mostly natural settings. He’d fit the background to the setting where people mostly would see his birds.”
Whipple sold his work through local galleries and gift shops in Canton at such places like The Canton News Depot, Stocker’s tobacco shop, Hartville Country Kitchen Collectibles and Lazar’s Art Gallery & Creative Framing who had a recent art exhibit of Whipple’s works which were on display from November-December of 2012. Whipple also sold works through a multitude of stores in Northeast Ohio and was also featured at selected galleries, shops and catalogs throughout the United States to include the famed Abercrombie & Fitch catalog. “What really was a Godsend for him was getting into the Abercrombie & Fitch catalog. It had such a great reputation for wildlife and high-end gifts at the time. That was what catapulted his career. Orders started coming in from all over the country.” his son added. “It’s interesting to know some of my material has gone that far,” Whipple, Sr. once told The Canon Repository, “You just get a kick out of it.” he added.
In 1977, his work was featured at the Canton Art Institute. His work remains on display in local homes and businesses and has traveled around the globe. Looking back, J.Q. Whipple considered himself one of the fortunate few who could make a living doing that which he truly loved.
Joseph Whipple passed away on April 29, 2008 at the age of 90 after a four month illness. He was a man of integrity, with a pleasant personality and was liked by all who knew him. The memorial service was held that following Saturday at Christian Ministries on State Street, North Canton.
(Rewritten in parts & compiled by Mark Strong of Meibohm Fine Arts, Inc., meibohmfinearts.com, from sources: cantonrep.com, The Canton Repository, News Now Section, “Postcard from Jackson Township: Looking into Whipple’s Woods”, by Gary Brown, staff writer, November 16, 2012; wiki.answers.com, biographical information; legacy.com, cantonrep.com, obituaries, 'Joseph Quinn Whipple, Sr.', with photo, and 'Joseph Quinn Whipple, Jr.'.)