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 Violet Kinney Parkhurst  (1921 - 2008)

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Lived/Active: California/Vermont      Known for: seascape paintings, nude figure

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:

Violet Parkhurst (1921-2008)

“Violet Parkhurst paints seascapes -life-like studies of the bubbling foam-flinging seas of the world, which thunder off the shores in their wild rush for the beach.  Her range of work, from the mysterious moonlit seas, to the shimmering summer surf, is inspired by her undying thirst for life and the beauty that surrounds us everyday.”

Violet Parkhurst’s seascapes are exhibited in museums and private collections around the world.  Her extensive list of collectors includes four US Presidents, two Presidents of China, King of Saudi Arabia, and a host of celebrities including her very first admirer Clark Gable.  Parkhurst paintings are currently exhibited on permanent collection in numerous museums including the Beijing National Museum, China, and Stockholm Museum  in Sweden.  She has also exhibited in the Louvre, Paris and Prado, Madrid Museums.  In 2004 Violet Parkhurst was honored for her contribution to the arts by the City of Los Angeles, with granting of her own namesake day, Violet Parkhurst Day, November 2nd.

Violet Parkhurst was born in Derby, Vermont.  As a child, Violet showed an early penchant for drawing.  She later attended the School of Practical Arts in Boston, where she won a scholarship to the Museum of Fine Arts in Rio de Janeiro.  Her early career was followed by a year of study at Baylor College in Waco, Texas. Violet finished her formal training in the arts at Los Angeles State College.

Believing that an artist should see the world before they can become a great artist, she indulged her longings and visited every state of the Union, then Canada.  In Mexico City she studied art for three months with Diego Rivera's wife, Frieda Kahlo.  She received a scholarship to the Rio de Janeiro Museum and was off to South America.  On her way to Rio, the ship she was on had to drop the passengers in Natal, Brazil due to a revolution.  They had to use the ship for Army personnel.  She then rented a house in Natal, Brazil, studied Portuguese and wrote and illustrated a book.  It was entitled Jaguar By The Tale! and was published in Rio.  Here she painted pictures of the natives, the fruit markets and huts, all of which she sold.  To pay for the travel, she became a Foreign Correspondent for movie magazines published and distributed in South America, and subsequently befriended many major movie stars of the period including Clark Gable, whom she later dated.

Violet gave up writing and turned seriously to painting because of her love for this medium. The temperament she inherited from her French mother and Scotch-Irish father could best be expressed by oils and brush.  She specializes in two genres into which women painters have rarely ventured, seascapes and nudes.

Her love of the ocean also includes her own sailboats and cruisers in which she has enjoyed exploring the Pacific and Mexican waters.  Her other love is her thoroughbred horses, which she has bred and raced since 1976 with many winners.

In addition to seascapes Violet also paints both the male and female nude, not thin, demure, cloak-shrouded figures, but full, fleshy, wholly-exposed Rubensian nudes set in dreamy settings and displaying unashamedly their magnificent, God-given charms and attributes.

Two of her seascapes were chosen with twenty-four other artist's paintings to tour Europe for the Cultural Exchange.  The show was at all major museums including the Louvre and Prado.  The two paintings are now in the permanent collection of the Stockholm Museum.  In the Spring of 2002, Violet Parkhurst was invited to China, where she was honored as the first western artist to have paintings in the collections of The Great Hall of the Peoples Republic of China and the China National Museum of Fine Arts, and was installed as Professor Emeritus at the Jilin Art College.

Violet has served on the Board of Directors for the Hollywood Bowl Easter Sunrise Service, and her artwork has been used on the cover of the program for the past 20+ years.  For her lifetime achievement Violet is listed in Who's Who in the World, Who's Who in International Art, Community Leaders, Noteworthy Americans and American Artists of Renown.

Submitted by Warren Hsiao

This biography from the Archives of AskART:

Violet Parkhurst, a well known seascape artist in Southern California, was born in the small town of Derby Line, Vermont on April 26, 1921 and died in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA on January 13, 2008. She studied art at the School of Practical Arts in Boston and at Baylor College.  She was a prolific painter and her paintings can be seen throughout the world and in the collection of several museums and private collections.  For the last 45 years she owned her own gallery in the Ports  of Call Village in San Pedro, CA.  The very popular gallery featured primarily her own paintings where thousands of visitors enjoyed viewing her artwork.

Submitted by Bob Constant

An extensive obituary "RPV artist's career spanned the stars" by Donna Littlejohn  appeared in  The Daily Breeze, Torrance, California, January 15, 2008.

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Violet Miriam Parkhurst was born in Derby Line, Vermont on April 26, 1921.  Parkhurst studied at the School of Practical Arts in Boston, won a scholarship to the Museum of Fine Arts in Rio de Janeiro, spent one year at Baylor College in Texas, and finished her formal training at Los Angeles City College.  Some of her early paintings are of  Brazilians during the period she lived in Natal.  She later became famous for her realistic seascapes.  The book, “Parkhurst on Seascapes” was published in 1972 by Walter Foster.  She died in San Pedro, California on January 12, 2008.
Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
Nearly 20,000 biographies can be found in Artists in California 1786-1940 by Edan Hughes and is available for sale ($150). For a full book description and order information please click here.

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