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 Don V. (Donald) Crowley  (1926 - )

About: Don V. (Donald) Crowley
 

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Lived/Active: Arizona/New York/California      Known for: historical-Indian genre and animal painting, illustration

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BIOGRAPHY for Don Crowley
Facts/Data
Birth
1926 (Redlands, California)
 
Lived/Active
Arizona/New York/California




Often Known For
historical-Indian genre and animal painting, illustration

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Known for his realistic depiction of Indian figures, Donald Crowley was born in Redlands and raised in Santa Ana, California from the time he was ten years old.  He showed art talent from childhood.  Of his personal feelings about art expression, he said: "Art is like sex.  It's something that you do; not something that you talk about."

As a young man, he was a close friend and painting companion with Mervin Corning, who became an accomplished watercolorist.  Crowley was heavily influenced towards subjects and technique by Frederic Remington's book, Done in the Open, and also by a book of English painters, titled World Famous Paintings, edited by Rockwell Kent.

He spent four years in the U.S. Navy and Merchant Marines, and then used the G.I. Bill to finance his way through the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles. Of this educational opportunity, he said that the GI Bill "was the greatest thing the government ever did."  He married Betty Jayne, a fellow art student, and the couple headed East where he spent twenty-one years in New York as a commercial illustrator with the Charles E. Cooper Studio.   He was prolific, and his illustrations from that era appeared in many publications including Reader's Digest, Dorothy Sayers' mysteries, and children's books.  Looking back, he described that period of his life as being among "unbearably pretentious" people, and living a life of "tinsel".

He said that in those days opportunities for gallery representation for artists was minimal, but having observed his friend James Bama have a successful one-man show in Wyoming, and tired of commercial art, he and his family moved West in the late 1960s.  In 1974, they moved to Tucson where Sam Wisnom, former schoolmate, had arranged for Crowley to show his work.

Crowley found Arizona a happy contrast to his east-coast existence.  Spending time on reservations with members of the Paiute and Apache tribes, he began his ongoing focus of painting Indian figures and portraits.  Moving from commercial to fine art had a loosening effect on his style, and his work got more colorful.  He met the Martineaus, a Paiute family on the San Carlos Reservation, and for years has used them regularly as models. He is fascinated by the inner dignity the Indians have when they are dressed in their finery.  As a special thank you to these new friends, he gave the San Carlos Apaches the proceeds of 40 artist proofs of his 1981 Greenwich Workshop lithographs.

In 1994, Don Crowley was elected to membership in the Cowboy Artists of America*, and he won numerous awards exhibiting with that organization including Artist's Choice, 1999; and Oil Painting, 1996, 1999 and 2006.  In 1998, he was named Artist of the Year by the Friends of Western Art, an affiliate group of the Phoenix Art Museum.

Sources:
Peggy & Harold Samuels, Contemporary Western Artists, p. 134 (Quotes)
Cowboy Artists of America 44th Annual Exhibition, 2009; Exhibition Catalogue published by the Cowboy Artists of America and the Phoenix Art Museum.
Artist files of the Phoenix Art Museum Library

* For references, see AskART Glossary http://www.askart.com/AskART/lists/Art_Definition.aspx


Biography from Altermann Galleries and Auctioneers, I:
Don Crowley

The eloquence of a Don Crowley painting is not in its re-creation of history, but in its vision of the living. A consummate realist, Don can paint the beauty and dignity of an Apache maiden, the spiritual countenance of an Indian dancer or a quiet still life with equal skill and passion.

The Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles was his training ground, and is also where he met his wife, B.J., whom he credits as his most discerning critic. After art school, he spent 23 years in New York as a commercial illustrator with the Charles E. Cooper Studio.

In 1972, tired of the repetition and restrictions of commercial art and feeling the need to release his stifled creativity, he and his family moved west. Here he has been able to free his talents and delve into the engrossing world of the Apache and Paiute Indians. His paintings typify the ideals of these southwestern societies and impart to the viewer the serenity of these people and their surrounding.

Don considers his election to the CA in 1994 his finest moment and greatest challenge.

Resources include: 2002 Cowboy Artists of America

Biography from Trailside Galleries:
The intended eloquence of a Don Crowley painting is not in its re-creation of history, but in its version of the living. A consummate realist, Don can paint the beauty and dignity of an Apache maiden, the spiritual countenance of an Indian dancer, or a quiet still life.

The Art Center College of Design in Los Angles was his training ground, and is also where he met his wife, B.J., whom he credits as his most discerning critic. After art school, he spent 23 years in New York as a commercial illustrator with the Charles E. Cooper Studio. In 1973, tired of the repetition and restrictions of commercial art and feeling the need to release his stifled creativity, he and his family moved West where he has been able to free his talents and delve into the engrossing world of the Apache and Paiute Indians.

His paintings are intended to typify the ideals of these Southwestern societies and impart to the viewer the serenity of these people and their surroundings. Don considers his election to the Cowboy Artists of America in 1994 as his finest moment and his greatest challenge.

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