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 Charles Samuel LaMonk  (1910 - 1990)

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Lived/Active: California/Wyoming      Known for: figure, portrait, Indian, petroglyph

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Ad Code: 4
Charles LaMonk
An example of work by Charles Samuel LaMonk
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
A painter in realist style of American and Central Mexican Indians as well as caves and canyons of the Southwest landscape, Charles La Monk was born in Kemmerer, Wyoming in 1910. He settled in Palmdale, California and operated the Artist's Gallery. He was known for painting a portrait from memory while lecturing on the heritage of his subject and then concluding both the lecture and the painting at the same time.

He graduated from the art department at Los Angeles Trade Tech and studied privately with Will Foster and at the Chouinard Art Institute. His stated purpose of his painting is to "capture on canvas the haunting emotion of the Indian people whose every ounce of strength is consumed in daily survival."

Source: Contemporary Western Artists by Peggy and Harold Samuels.
The following is from Chuck France but text is taken from The Desert Magazine.

No Matter what line of work a person purses, success depends greatly on the enthusiasm and dedication or drive of the individual. Artist Charles La Monk, of Palmdale, California, is a worthy example of these qualities. He has two channels for his dedication. First, the recording and preserving of Indian rock writings (petroglyphs and pictographs), and secondly, the portraiture of the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico.

La Monks's renderings of rock writings involve on-site study and most well-preserved petroglyphs are very inaccessible, requiring considerable hiking. Using eroded sand and rock, he applies it over a white lead base building a realistic facsimile of a chosen petroglyph. The pictographs are painted on a simple base, using a frayed deer-hide on a one half inch wide stick some four inches long. By Experimentation he found this ideal to produce the strokes and dots of the ancient rock artists.

Little wonder that with his great interest in Indian art he was drawn to the primitive tribe of Tarahumara's that inhabit an almost inaccessible area. His love for the Tarahumara's has led him on many, many trips to the fortress-like barrancas of Mexico. I asked him why, he chose this obscure tribe to preserve on canvas and his answer gives an insight to the kind of man he is. If I can show in my paintings of these American Indians a bit of the background of their lives, by the expression in their eyes, their gestures, or capture that haunting, emotional quality so often seen in them, then my efforts are not in vain. Fortunately, the majority of Tarahumara's have retained their Indian identity. They are closely linked with the ancient past and possess those wonderful facial qualities that moves and inspires the portrait painter.

Long ago as a boy living on a ranch in western Wyoming, I saw on occasion small bands of mounted Indians traveling through the mountains or plains. They were picturesque, graceful in the saddle, so in harmony with the environment. What a thrill for this boy longed to ride with them. Those days are gone. A few artists and writers witnessed it, recorded what they saw and made a valuable contribution to Western Americana. The Tarahumara's stone age life style will change now that their land has been declared a Mexican National Park. An influx of tourist from all over the world are entering the area. I shall document them as I see them, not polished or sophisticated. Just small transcripts from life as seen through an artist eye. Small transcripts, indeed! Working in earthy tones, his portraits come to life from the lined oldsters to the shy downcast looks of the youngsters.
Note from Jill Mueller who writes that the artist is deceased:
"He was a member of the AICA (American Indian and Cowboy Assoc. ) of
Southern California and of ASA ( the Archaeological Survey Association of So. Cal., Inc. ) ASA currently owns 106 original LaMonks.

He was a good friend of mine. For me as an artist, he was very supportive.
We both ended up with each others work. All the American Indians he painted loved him for he painted them just as they were.

"Lady" Jill Mueller

These Notes from AskART represent the beginning of a possible future biography for this artist. Please click here if you wish to help in its development:
Born in Kemmerer, WY on April 22, 1910. LaMonk settled in Palmdale, CA at an early age. He studied at Chouinard Art Institute and privately with Will Foster. He specialized in recording the Indians of Mexico as well as the caves and canyons of the Southwest. He died in Los Angeles on Aug. 9, 1990. Exh: Allied AA (Antelope Valley), 1963.
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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