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Elaine Badgley Arnoux

 (born 1926)
Elaine Badgley Arnoux is active/lives in California, Nebraska / France.  Elaine Arnoux is known for portrait painting, printmaking and mixed-media art.

Elaine Badgley Arnoux

Biography from the Archives of askART

Elaine Badgley Arnoux (1926-)

Born: Omaha, Nebraska 1926 nee: Helen Elaine Harper

Age 11, moved to Southern California, Whittier.

Scholarship to Chouinard Art Institute, 1944-46.

Married Robert Stranahan, 1946, 2 children.

Moved to San Luis Obispo, worked as a watercolorist depicting landscapes and buildings of the area.

Divorced, 1952.

Helped found San Luis Obispo Art Association in1952, was its first president. 2006, her retrospective was held at the now San Luis Obispo Art Museum.

Married John Badgley, architect, 1952

Influenced by local serigraphers, Dorothy Bowman & Howard Bradford, began to paint with oils.

Met Channing Peake, 1957.  He influenced her work over the next two years, with critiques, and to sign her name EB. She began to paint in a more cubist style as a result.

Also met Peakes colleagues, Rico Lebrun, Howard Warshaw. Was influenced by seeing Rufino Tamayos imagery.

Son born, 1961.

1961, traveled to Spain, studied the work of Francisco Goyas.

Moved to San Francisco, 1965, John Badgley joined SF architectural firm, Welton Becket.

Painting style changes with use of acrylics, Matisse was now major inspiration.

Divorced, 1973.

1975, moves to Biot France, with soon-to-be husband Gilles Arnoux.

Painted and drew the village people as a way for her to assimilate into the village.

1977, show Les Gens de Biot held at the Syndicat d'Initiative.

1977 moves back to San Francisco, begins work on The People of San Francisco.

1979 opens her own art school on Geary Boulevard, The EBA School of Art with core course 'The Edge of Vision'.

1985, 100 portraits of San Franciscans held at the California Historical Society. This project continued through the years until present with the most recent exhibition at the San Francisco Old Mint, 2009.  Currently the series contains 175 portraits.

1989, traveled to New Mexico to conduct workshop with Charles Strong, influenced by the Navajo chieftain blankets of bold stripes

1989, moves her school to 689 Bryant Street, San Francisco, after the earthquake in 89.

Homeless shelter built next to the school in 1990.  Influenced her next series The New Frontier.  This period initiated her as an artist/activist, working with the shelter and its residents, staging processions to raise consciousness about homelessness.

1992, circled homeless carts part of the inaugural opening ceremony of Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

2002, began work Once Upon A Time, as a reaction to 9/11, based on Mother Goose rhymes.

2008, Once Upon A Time, shown at The Museum of Art and History, Santa Cruz

Solo Exhibitions:
2010 "People," Cain Shulte Gallery, San Francisco, CA
"Blooms," Salon at Jackson Square, San Francisco, CA
2009 "The People of San Francisco," Premier Installation: Old Mint and Museum of San Francisco, CA
2008 "Once Upon A Time," Santa Cruz Museum, MacPherson Center, Santa Cruz, CA
2006 "The Shadows of War," California Institute for Integral Studies, CA
2004 Retrospective, San Luis Obispo Art Center, San Luis Obispo, CA
2001 "The People of San Francisco," Art Commission Gallery, San Francisco City Hall, San Francisco, CA
2000 "India Watercolors," Kala Art Gallery, San Francisco, CA
1999 "Shadow & Light," Triton Museum, Santa Clara, CA
1999 Selections from "The People of San Francisco - 100 Portraits," Embarcadero Center, San Francisco, CA
1996 Atherton Gallery, Atherton, CA
1993 "The Night Sky," Bridge Gallery, San Francisco, CA
1992 Continuing installations of "The New Frontier," San Francisco, Solano and Marin Counties, CA
1992 Premier Installation: "The New Frontier: Rebuilding the American Dream" - Twenty painted shopping
carts as covered wagons pushed by homeless people and artists to the civic center in San Francisco, CA
1990 College of Holy Names, Oakland, CA
1990 Robert Mondavi Gallery, Oakville, Napa Valley, CA
1985 California Historical Society, "The People of San Francisco - 100 Portraits," San Francisco, CA
1979-80 Phillip Bonnafont Gallery, San Francisco, CA
1977 Municipal Art Gallery, Biot, France
1971-75 Gump's Art Gallery (yearly shows), San Francisco, CA
1969-70 Gordon Woodside Gallery, Seattle, WA
1964-67 Atherton Gallery (yearly shows), Atherton, CA
1963 V.C. Morris Gallery, San Francisco, CA
1960 Scripps College Gallery, Pomona, CA
1957 Robert Day Gallery, Richmond, CA

Selected Group Exhibitions:
2010-09 "Group Exhibition," School House Art Gallery, 1892, Brownville, NE
2007 "December Group Exhibition," MM Gallery, San Francisco, CA
2007 "MAH's Plein Air Affaire," Santa Cruz Museum, MacPherson Center, Santa Cruz, CA
2007 "Soirée of Petite Treasures," San Luis Obispo Art Center, San Luis Obispo Art Center, CA
2005 "Looking Back and Seeing Forward," Charles Campbell Gallery, San Francisco, CA
2004 "The Ceremony of Tea," Triton Museum, Santa Clara, CA
2003 "Liquid Art," SomArts Bay Gallery, San Francisco, CA
2001 "Works on Paper," The Achenbach Collection, San Francisco Legion of Honor, San Francisco, CA
1999 Invitational Exhibition for Five Women Artists, SomArts Gallery, San Francisco, CA
1998 "The California Landscape," Triton Museum, Santa Clara, CA
1997 HOME, De Saisset Museum, Santa Clara, CA
1997 "Face to Face," Triton Museum, Santa Clara, CA
1996 Yerba Buena Sculpture Walk: Terrain Gallery, San Francisco, CA
1993 "The Night Sky," Premier Exposition: Center For The Arts, Yerba Buena Center, San Francisco, CA
1992 "Food for Thought," Berkeley Art Center, Berkeley, CA
1989 Modesto Lanzone Gallery, San Francisco, CA
1985 Creative Growth Programs, Oakland, CA
1984 Susan Blanchard Gallery, New York, NY
1984 "Faces," De Anza College, San Mateo, CA
1983 Sheppard Fine Arts Gallery, University of Nevada, Reno, NV

Information provided by Flora Davis, the artist's assistant.

Biography from Museum of Nebraska Art
Elaine Arnoux
b. 1926 Omaha, Nebraska

(Helen Elaine Harper)
(Elaine Stranahan)
(Elaine Badgley)
(Elaine Kozloff)

Painter, sculptor, printmaker and installation artist, Elaine Arnoux wrote that “the discipline of my Nebraska roots, motherhood, and the allure of California’s landscape have inspired diverse and colorful periods of art.” ( Much of her work has focused on individuals of wide-ranging lives in rural and cosmopolitan areas. During her nearly 80-year career, her changing signature reflected her own ‘wide-ranging’ life as she added and subtracted husbands. Of the ‘line-up,’ she said: “Take a deep breath.” (Elaine Badgley Arnoux, painter of mayors) She was born Helen Elaine Harper and successively had names of Elaine Stranahan, Elaine Badgley, Elaine Arnoux, and finally Elaine Kozloff.

Her life, which began in Omaha and continued in California, was a path from personal complications to public acclaim and self-confidence. Much of this transformation resulted from her accomplishments as one of northern California’s more prominent artists, teachers, and social activists. Especially known for her portrait painting, she was also co-founder and President of the San Luis Obispo Art Association (now San Luis Obispo Museum of Art), founder/teacher of an art school, and volunteer in low-income settlements. From 1957 to 2010, her work was featured in 25 solo exhibitions and 20 group exhibitions including a return to Nebraska in 1982 for an exhibition at the Schoolhouse Art Gallery in Brownville.

However, her early years in Nebraska were difficult because her father, Charles Harper, was abusive and her mother, Harriet, could not protect her. He served time in jail for impregnating a 14-year old girl and taking her across state borders. In 1936 when she was age 10, Elaine was living with her grandparents. After her father was released from prison, the grandparents moved Elaine from Omaha to Los Angeles to rebuild a family life with her mother and father. They lived in rented properties and, by 1940, were in nearby Whittier where her father worked for a citrus service. During her teenage years, she did portrait painting and, recognized for having talent, she received a two-year scholarship to Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles between 1944 and 1946. However, much of her creative energy was diverted by the mental and physical abuse inflicted on her and her mother by the father.

Searching for affection and stability, Elaine had a series of marriages beginning at age 20 with Robert Stranahan (married from 1946 to 1952, 2 children). Succeeding husbands were John Badgley (married from 1952 to 1973, one son), Giles Arnoux, and Harold Kozloff. She recalled her time with Arnoux as happy and especially life changing because it set a pattern for her future painting career. He was a French artist 22 years her junior and he took her to live in his hometown of Biot, France for three years. At first she was depressed and lonely but, warding off a near break-down, she launched a portrait project of painting likenesses of each of the village’s influential people. The resulting images received positive attention because of the diversity of the 65 subjects and the fact that, unlike so many traditional portraits, none of them looked frozen or ‘absolutely still.’

After exhibitions of this series, several viewers financially supported her idea of a similar project in the Bay Area, and she returned to San Francisco in 1977 where she had previously lived from 1965 until her move to France in 1975. She described her subjects as a “hodgepodge of San Franciscans” ? over 190 likenesses such as cab drivers, firemen, postal workers, cultural leaders, and politicians including eight San Francisco mayors. The California Historical Society hosted an exhibition in 1985 and, in March 2009, a one-woman exhibition of her work titled "The People of San Francisco" was held at the Old Mint Building.

During these years, Elaine also had other projects. She did a series of paintings based on Mother Goose subjects, which endeared her to families. She opened her own art school, the EBA School of Art, in 1979, and moved it to a different location 10 years later. The following year, a homeless shelter was built next door, and she provided gratis art lessons, leading to her activism, and she arranged an installation of homeless people’s shopping carts at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts at its 1992 inauguration to raise public consciousness.

In 2014, when Elaine was 88 and had a studio near the Embarcadero in San Francisco, her work space, according to a visitor, was a “flurry of shapes and colors, fanciful sculptures, containers of every sort, paintings, brushes, baskets and books” (Sean Martinfield). As symbolic commentary on both the present and the future, the scene exuded vitality and creative energy. For those persons who knew the life story of Elaine Harper, it was a marked reversal from her early years. Summing up the twists and turns of her life, she said: “I was very old when I was young. I wasn’t young until I was old.” (

Elaine Arnoux is not represented in the Museum of Nebraska Art collection.

Sources:, Feb. 2014

“Elaine Badgley Arnoux,”, Feb. 2014

“Elaine Badgley Arnoux, painter of mayors,” by Sam Whiting,, Feb. 2014

San Francisco Sentinel, newspaper: 2/18/2014, Martinfield, Sean, “A Conversation with Artist Elaine Badgley Arnoux-The People of San Francisco, Lives of Accomplishment”

Researched, written, and copyrighted by Lonnie Pierson Dunbier, 2015
Museum of Nebraska Art Project:
Their Place, Their Time: Women Artists in Nebraska, 1825-1945

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at

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About  Elaine Badgley Arnoux

Born:  1926 - Omaha, Nebraska
Known for:  portrait painting, printmaking and mixed-media art