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 Duval Eliot  (1909 - 1990)

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Lived/Active: California/Arkansas      Known for: watercolor painting, fashion design, serigraphy, teaching

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Ad Code: 3
AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
Chavez Ravine
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following is from Tamara Eliot, daughter of the artist:

Duval Eliot, nee Ruby Duval Bearden, was born in Arkansas, and at a young age moved with her family to California. After going to Hollywood High School for a while, she attended The Los Angeles Trade Technical College (then known as Frank Wiggins Trade School), studying Commercial Art and Design. While there, she began her art career as a men's fashion illustrator. Then, because of her immense interest in art, on graduating June 19, 1930, immediately enrolled in Art Center School in Los Angeles, being one of their inaugural students. She studied landscape painting (watercolor and oil), portrait, life drawing and illustration with Barse Miller and with Joseph Henniger, life drawing and quick sketch. At Art Center she continued studying all facets of commercial art and simultaneously worked at the Columbia Advertising Agency designing newspaper layouts and fashion illustrations for the major Los Angeles department stores such as I. Magnin, The Broadway, I. Miller, Wetherby Kayser, and Sak's in Beverly Hills, etc.

During this period, Duval met and fell in love with a fellow artist, Don Eliot, who was teaching sculpture at Stickney Art School in Pasadena part time while attending Art Center School on a scholarship. On March 31, 1934 they eloped to Kingman, Arizona to be married, and then to the Grand Canyon for a camping honeymoon, thus embarking upon a life-long artistic collaboration. In 1935, Don Eliot became a package designer for Pacific Fine Arts Co. where he designed the entire "King's Men" cosmetic line (the gold bottles with the knight's heads). During the war he worked for North American Aircraft as a tool designer and illustrated repair manuals for both B25 and Mustang airplanes. He also worked for Lockheed, developing a sales brochure for the Saturn, a post war plane. Afterwards, he designed Max Factor Cosmetics entire line in the "Golden Years" of Hollywood, and later, most of the packaging and bottles for Merle Norman Cosmetics for 20 years.

In 1937, Duval Eliot was asked to teach fashion illustration and layout at Art Center School in Los Angeles, her class being a required part of the curriculum to teach students to understand how to draw figures with fashionable attire. She resigned in 1941 to raise a family and was invited to resume her teaching there at any time.

In 1940, Duval and Don designed and built a contemporary red-wood house/studio just below the Eagle Rock on N. Figueroa St. above the ravine and stream bed below, the land descending in garden levels down to their badminton court alongside the horse-trail and stream, which attracted quite a bit of attention. Their only daughter, Tamara Noel, was born Dec. 25, 1941.

Throughout the 1940's, Duval continued to amass a large body of watercolor landscapes of Southern California and the West, while illustrating for J.J. Hagarty. Commercially, her prime focus was free-lance illustration, which could be created with a young child in tow, finding interesting work at the "Western Family Magazine", for whom she did illustrations for over ten years. She also illustrated children's storybooks and textbooks for MacMillian and L.W. Stinger publishing houses, meanwhile creating Fashion Advertisements and billboards in full color for Phelps & Terkel for several years and billboards for Silverwoods Department Store. For this work, Duval received the Western Art Directors Award in 1946.

During the post World War II years, Duval honed her fine art techniques. She studied with such notable artists as: Barse Miller, Hardy Gramatky and Ejnar Hansen (watercolor) and also with Hansen, (landscape & portrait painting in oil). In 1948, in The Fourth Annual Los Angeles Exhibition at The Greek Theater in Griffith Park, she won 1st Prize for her watercolor entitled "End of the Trail" among her peers of 326 entrants for painting.

She also studied painting with Conrad Buff, J.C.Wright, Design and Abstract Painting with Leonard Edmonson, and later, painting in acrylic with 2 years of intensive color with Guy MacCoy and silk-screen Serigraphy with Mario De Perentes. Duval also became close friends with Milford Zornes. She appears with him in an early black and white photograph with in the Bio/Documentary Video screened recently at his exhibition "A California Watercolorist at 95" held at The Pasadena Museum of California Art (March 2003).

Throughout her life, Duval continuously painted and sketched on the numerous trips she, her husband and daughter, Tamara, enjoyed all over California (the Coastal areas, the Ghost Towns, and several "pack-trips" with horses and mules for 10 days to two weeks up in the High Sierras in 1939, 1948, 1957 and 1967), the Southwest "Four Corner's Country" (camping on the Hopi and Navajo Reservations, crossing the Continental Divide in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado starting their pack-trip from Pagosa Springs, the ranch of Lola and Fred Harmon, the creator of "Red Ryder Comics" and friends from art school), the Pacific Northwest, as well as Mexico in 1936-1937.

In 1960 Duval and Don traveled throughout Mexico after joining their daughter who had been studying at the University of Mexico. In Mexico City they visited David Alvaro Siqueiros, whom Duval had met back in 1932 during her Art School days. While in the living room with him and his wife, David suddenly had to "disappear" for a while, escaping out the balcony window as the police were knocking on the door!

In 1963, on an archaeological expedition into the "Barancas del Cobre" they visited the Tarahumara Indians with members of the A.S.A (Archeological Survey Association). They also went on numerous Petroglyph trips with the A.S.A. (1960's & 1970's), Hawaii (1963) and Europe in 1965, joining their daughter, Tamara, who had been living and performing in London and in Spain.

When the freeway took their property in 1954, the Eliots in 1955 built their larger studio dream house in Whiting Woods, La Crescenta, which was featured in Sunset Magazine. Here, Duval finally had the space to produce an enormous body of silk-screen serigraphs. Also during this period, she became interested in the ancient art of enamel on copper, studying with Jean Buckley. Then, after experimenting with the powdered glass, firing at extremely high temperatures, she began utilizing her extensive art background and transformed what previously was considered craft into a 3-dimensional art form, forging the copper into bas-reliefs and sculpture.

Her numerous and sometimes enormous pieces were used by many well-known architects and designers of the time, such as Welton Beckett and Adele Faulkner. Her enamel and hand-forged work ranged from small decorative pieces to large architectural panels for which she was commissioned by The Lytton Savings and Loan building on Sunset Blvd. (over 140 different designs) among others.

Duval became active in The Southern California Designer Craftsmen (S.C.D.C.) as recording secretary, publicity chairman, and on the jury of admission for two years. She won many awards and exhibited extensively throughout the 1950's and 1960's at Barnsdall Municipal Art Gallery, Pasadena Art Museum (paintings and enamels}, Gallery 333 on La Cienega, as well as colleges, demonstrating watercolor techniques, enamel techniques and even silversmithing (lost wax-casting).

Duval was also an active member and on the boards of The Pasadena Society of Artists,The Los Angeles Art Association, Women Painters of the West, as well as S.C.D.C., participating in numerous group ( Design 6,7,8,and 9 at the Pasadena Art Museum) and one-man shows in the vicinities of Pasadena, Glendale, Santa Barbara and Claremont. She was represented in Paris by two silk screen serigraphs at The Exposicion Internacionale des Federacion Femenine at The Museum des Arts Decoratifs in 1971.

In the mid 1960's Duval renewed her art teaching career with the city of Glendale in its public art program at their Freemont Craft Center, teaching enamel on copper, life drawing, watercolor, and silversmithing (Native American, traditional and modern). In 1966, she and her husband Don, were a bit disappointed when their daughter, Tamara, ran off to Saudi Arabia with Farouk and got married in a Moslem Ceremony, abandoning her dance career and education. But on their return they married again in the Eliot's Whiting Woods garden and she resumed her education at UCLA (later disappearing again back to Saudi Arabia, escaping after 2 years behind the veil and traveling in Egypt, India, Asia etc. causing her parents a lot of concern and worry until she returned safely in 1971.

Throughout the 1970's and 1980's Duval taught life drawing and advanced technique in watercolor at The Brand Library and Art Center, resigning in 1987 at the age of 78, after teaching for 23 years (1964 to 1987).. Duval was also a prominently recognized juror for numerous art exhibitions throughout Southern California.

Duval, after her beloved husband Don, and partner in life passed away in 1979, was invited to Kenya in 1981 by her daughter, who had been performing throughout Africa at the time. On her return, Duval produced another burst of work in brilliant color from her impressions of Kenya throughout 1982 to 1985.

In 1988, her last exhibition "Duval Eliot in Retrospect" was held at her beautiful home/studio in Whiting Woods, Glendale and soon after, she moved to a smaller home in Tujunga, CA. In 1990, a few months after her death on August 30th, her home and storage area were vandalized by drug addicts and Duval's remaining life work, as well as her husband's, Don Eliot, were stolen!! Through the intense efforts of her daughter, most of the art was recovered rather dangerously, (with no help from L.A.P.D.) It was then photographed and curated throughout 1991 and 1992. Some of the art was placed in Southern California galleries.

Duval Eliot was represented in The Los Angeles County Art Museum's show "MADE IN CALIFORNIA" in 2001 with Chavez Ravine (lent by L.A. County) and "3rd St. Traffic" (lent by The George Stern Gallery).

In 2002, her daughter, Tamara Eliot was finally able to return from Spain where she has been living for the last 18 years, collect all the remaining art and present an exhibition of over 370 pieces - "THE LOST CLASSICS of DUVAL ELIOT "1909 1990" which included watercolor landscapes and portraits from the 1930's and 1940's, figurative work (nudes in charcoal, pencil, pen & ink with gouache and paintings), abstracts, illustrations, and silk screen prints throughout Duval's prolific 57 year career. The exhibit was held at the former Pasadena School of Fine Art on Mentor Avenue - from Dec. 6th through Feb. 15th, 2003. This was the site previously owned by Jae Carmichael, where during the 1940's and 1950's, a group of 10 to 25 mostly well-known working artists, including Duval, would meet on Thursdays, dropping a dollar in the hat for the model fee.

Apart from private collections, work of Duval Eliot is represented in the permanent collections of:

1992 The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising Los Angeles
(Over 100 illustrations from the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s archived for their
preservation and research)

1993 - The Los Angeles County Museum of Art The California Watercolor Society
Collection and the Print, Drawing and Pen & Ink Collection (3 pieces)

1993 - The Laguna Art Museum The California Watercolor Collection (2 pieces)

1993 - The Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum The Western Watercolor
Collection (2 pieces)

1993 - Women Painters of the West National traveling exhibition, curated by Patricia Trenton, watercolors on loan from L.A. County Museum of Art

1994 - National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington D.C. Women Artists
throughout the United States

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Arkansas on June 27, 1909, Duval Eliot moved with her family, the Beardens,  to California when Duval was quite young.  Settling in Los Angeles, she studied at the Frank Wiggins Trade School and Art Center School.

In 1934, she married artist Don Eliot and they embarked upon a lifelong artistic collaboration.  While working as a magazine illustrator, she produced many watercolors of southern California.  She received the Western Art Directors' Award in 1946.  During the 1950s, she concentrated on the ancient art of enamel on metal.  During the 1960s she taught in the Glendale public art program.

She died in Tujunga, CA on Aug. 30, 1990.

Member: Pasadena Society of Artists; Women Painters of the West; Los Angeles Art Association

Exhibition: Artists of LA, Greek Theater, 1948; Pasadena Museum, 1956-59; Verdugo Hills AA, 1956; Musée des Arts Decoratifs (Paris), 1971; Women Painters of the West, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1993.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Gene Autry Museum.
Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
Death record.
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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