Raggedy Ann and Andy.
by Albert Simonson
What do Alpine’s Historical Museum and its Catholic church have in common with Washington’s Smithsonian Institution? Answer - paintings by local artist Justin Gruelle.
Gruelle, already a famous artist when he came to Alpine in 1957, bought a place at the crook in the road on Lilac Lane. His brother, Johnny, was the creator of the enormously popular Raggedy Ann rag doll with shoe-button eyes and red hair. Both brothers wrote and illustrated the Raggedy Ann and Andy books. When Johnny died, Justin finished the book they were working on and then let the rag doll characters slip into fond immortality.
Justin’s large mural of pioneer aviators was hung near the left wing of Lindberg’s “Spirit of Saint Louis” at the Smithsonian.
When the Alpine Historical Society acquired the pioneer home of Captain Beaty, they found an artist’s desk and also a metal sign, “J.C. Gruelle Studio.” The sign is believed to have hung on Gruelle’s fence at Lilac Lane.
For the Queen of Angels church in Alpine, he painted 14 Stations of the Cross. He did portraits of well-known figures such as Admiral Fleet, Charles Lindberg and the Wright brothers.