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 Hal (Hart H) Empie  (1909 - 2002)

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Lived/Active: Arizona      Known for: landscape painting, some sculpture, cartoon

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Ad Code: 3
Hal Empie
An example of work by Hal (Hart H) Empie
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following, submitted February 2003, is from Brandon DeVine, grandson of Hal Empie.

Born March 26, 1909, a child of the Territory of Arizona who grew up with the state, Hal Empie held the dual distinction of being both the oldest continuous resident artist in Arizona's history and its youngest licensed pharmacist.  His paintings, cartoons, drawings and sketches have appeared in many publications, nationally juried and invitational exhibitions, as well as the permanent collections of collectors, museums and cultural institutions throughout the country.  He was also the creator behind the Empie Kartoon Kards and Porqupine Aiggs, artistic novelties.

Empie was born in a one room, dirt floored adobe house in the rural reaches outside Safford, Arizona, where he took instruction in a country schoolhouse inclusive of all grades.  He relocated to the town proper in 1920, when his parents opened the New York Hotel.  The times were such that a boy was expected to help earn his keep, and he did so through a variety of means ranging from animal trapping to door-to-door sales of homemade cheese and mail order salve.

His big break came at the age of 14, when Amos Cook hired him as his assistant in the Best Drug Store, an association he held consecutively until September of 1927, when he enrolled in the medical program at the University of Arizona.  He left the college in 1929 to marry his childhood sweetheart, Louise Reinhardt, who preceded him in death on April 26, 2001, after 72 years of marriage.

Empie studied at the Capital College of Pharmacy before becoming Arizona's youngest licensed pharmacist in 1930.  Because he was only 20 years old at the time, a special permit had to be issued by the state to enable him to practice pharmacy prior to his official certification.  He began his professional career as resident pharmacist and manager of the Best Drug Company in Solomonville during the height of the Great Depression.  When a fire destroyed the establishment a few years into his tenure, he supplemented his pharmacy income and opened a successful sign-painting business.

Hal and Louise moved to Duncan, Arizona in 1934 when the owner of the Duncan Drug Store approached him to serve as interim manager.  He bought the concern in 1937 and eventually moved it to a new location under a new logo, the Art Gallery Drug, which remained in operation until 1986 when the couple closed the pharmacy, relocated to Tubac, and opened the Hal Empie Studio and Gallery.

Throughout these years, Empie made art on the side and marketed it from the pharmacy, as well as through galleries and exhibitions. For many years, he conducted nationally advertised art classes in his studio and at various locations across the region.  Aside from two brief three-week seminars under the aegis of European teacher/author Frederic Taubes during the 1950's, Empie was a self-taught "art for art's sake" artist, whose colorful themes and diverse array of styles earned him an eclectic audience.

In 1998, Empie was diagnosed with macular degeneration, which left him with only peripheral vision.  Rather than abandon his passion to make art, he bought a magnifying lens and modified his routine to fit his new circumstances, producing paintings and drawings extracted from the continuous loop movie perpetually playing in his head centered upon all things Arizona.  He never copied photographs. Everything he ever created was from memory or imagination.

The Arizona Historical Foundation "honored the resident master's legacy with a biography, entitled Arizona's Hal Empie, His Life, His Times and His Art. The foreword is written by Justice Sandra Day OConner.

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Arizona State Capitol, Phoenix, Arizona
Tucson Museum of Art, Tucson, Arizona
Herbert Hoover Presidential Library, West Branch, Iowa
Phippen Museum of Western Art, Prescott, Arizona
Syracuse University Library of Special Collections, Syracuse, New York
Arizona Historical Foundation, Tempe, Arizona

Southwest Art, March 1986, page 16, staff

Southwest Art, Feb 1992, pages 82 thru 87, Kay Mayer......color
Oct. 1982, page 178, staff, color
June , 2002, page 32.........staff
Oct. 1992 Price Index, pg. 124
Jan. 1997 Art Source pg. 78
Jan. 1995 Art Source pg. 108
March 1996, page 102......color
Oct. 1995 7th Annual Price Guide page 102
Oct. 1994 6th Annual Price Guide page 95

Art In America 1984-1985
Art In America 1986-1987 pg. 52

Art Talk Feb. 1985, pages 19, 29....staff
Art Talk June/July 2002, page 10....staff

Art of the West Jan./Feb. 1985 Pages 55 thru 63, Kay Mayer, color(this is now Art of the West)
Art Of The West ...May/June 98....staff
Art Of The West Jan/Feb. 1988
Art Of The West Guide Book of Western Artists 1997 page 43
Art Of The West Guide Book of Western Artists 1996 page 47

Western Art Digest March/April 1986 page 28

Art of the Golden Rockies

The Desert Magazine Jan. 1942 15,16,17 Audrey Walls

Hoof and Horns Rodeo's Oldest Publication Nov. 1953 cover and page 9....Al Fenn
Hoofs and Horns Sept. 1953 Cover

Horse Lover's Magazine May 1954 Cover.....color....article writter by Hal Empie pages 14,15

Western Horseman June, 1986, page 94 Chan Bergen
Western Horseman June 1984, 86,87,88, Chan Gergen color

Old West Summer 1985 Cover and page 9....color

True West April 1984 page 61
True West Dec. 1986 page 10...editor
True West Sept. 1989 cover and page 4....color

Postcard Dealer and Collector.....Oct/Nov 1984 pages 164 and 165...staff
Postcard Collector March 1984, page 35...staff

The State of the Art Dec. 1985 page 6, AnnTousley.....Texas art publication

American Profile Jan. 2002, page 4, Gail Mustapha...color......this comes in your Sunday paper....national publicaton insert

Tucson Guide Quarterly summer 2002 cover, pages 48 thru 53, Margaret Regan.....color
Tucson Visitor Feb/March 1984 cover and page 30...staff
Tucson Lifestyle Nov. 1986, pages 46 and 47...Allen Scott....color
Tucson Guide fall/winter 1985 page 109...editor....color

Arizona Pharmacist Jan/Feb. 1986 cover and page 15...color
Arizona Pharmacist De. 1982, cover and 24 thru 26, color
Arizona Pharmacist July, 1962 cover and page 11, color

Ann Groves, daughter of the artist

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Safford, Arizona, Hal Empie studied for several summers with Frederic Taubes and became known for his colorful, impressionist landscapes. Some persons considered him the Dean of Arizona artists because he was the oldest continuous resident artist in the state and because he was a strong promoter of being proud of being an Arizona artists.

He was a member of the El Paso Sketch Club and the Arizona Artists Guild. He was an illustrator for Western magazines and an Instructor at the Cloudcroft Art School at Cloudcroft, New Mexico. Panels by him are in the Methodist Church in Duncan, Arizona, where his studio was in his drugstore. He was also the creator of Empie Kartoon Kards and Porqupine Aiggs, popular artistic novelties.

For many years, he had dual careers as pharmacist (the first to be licensed in the state) and artist. In 1986, he moved to Tubac, Arizona.

Art-Talk, June 2002

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