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 Elbert Price  (1926 - )

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Lived/Active: California/Arkansas/Tennessee      Known for: modernist animal and figure sculpture and painting,

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following information was submitted by the artist, December 2011:

ELBERT PRICE--- born in 1926,  is lifelong, painter and sculptor.  His formal art education began at Harding College in Searcy, Arkansas, while a high school student and continued at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh after his Navy service.

Prior to arriving in Santa Barbara in 1981, he had a gallery adjacent to Jackson Square in New Orleans, Louisiana for two years.

Elbert says "Making art gives me joy.  I've always done it and when I'm doing it, I know I'm me.  My works need no interpretation. My paintings are oil on canvas and my sculptures are fired stoneware, some are glazed.  I occasionally do larger paintings in acrylics."

Elbert has been sculpting and drawing since he was a toddler.  He first drew with carpenter's pencils,  brought home by his father, a contractor and later, an attorney and Senator in Arkansas.  His paper was butcher paper saved for him by his mother.  He would lie on the floor and draw for hours.  It was Depression time and there were no funds for art supplies.

During his early years, Elbert was the subject of many paintings of him holding a rabbit.  These paintings were done by a neighbor and undoubtedly influenced the creative youngster.

In preschool, he remembers his mother dragging him out after class with him screaming "NO NO NO! they will get my clay!!!" And they always did.

In third grade, having been left indoors, alone, during recess, he filched his teacher's colored chalk and filled the blackboards with flamboyant, imaginary birds of all colors and descriptions.  When the teacher returned, she was so impressed, that she had all of the other third grade classes come and admire his work and listen to his elaborate and fabricated story of what was happening with the birds.  Needless to say, she locked up her colored chalks.

No art classes were taught in Arkansas schools at that time. He was the only artist in his high school and there was still no art program.  His principal liked Elbert and  arranged with the art teacher at Harding College for him to attend.  His teacher's name was Langston and she continued instructing him even when he was attending the Art Institute of  Pittsburgh, three years later.  He says that she was his best teacher.

At 17, he joined the Navy and spent most of World War II aboard a destroyer going back and forth to England.  During that time he made pocket money by drawing, from their photos, pictures of other sailor's girlfriends back home.

He enrolled, on the G. I. Bill in the Art Institute of Pittsburgh.  He there became a commercial artist.

Later, becoming a stock broker, Elbert would often take off on a short painting trip.  He painted all over the Louisiana bayou country as well as many special locations in  Arkansas.   Every where he painted, he drew a crowd.

He often appeared on afternoon television doing a painting demonstration, in place of a guest that did not show up.  He was invited and demonstrated on television at the  New Orleans World Fair.

In 1981, he and his second wife, Shirley, also an artist, rented their home in Louisiana that they had built together and leaving Louisiana for good, they moved to Santa Barbara, California.  There, Elbert immediately opened a studio/gallery in the historical El Paseo.  He painted in this studio every day, meeting visitors from all over the world, sold his work and extolled his philosophy on art.  Elbert looks back fondly on those seven years in the old El Paseo. 

There, also,  he explained to those interested, the materials needed to begin painting.  Most of all, he gave these would be artists "permission to proceed" saying "You can do it!"  This was his favorite saying along with "If you don't do it, no one will" and "Everyone, who is willing to try, can produce art that they and others will love.  Maybe the world will not approve, but you, yourself, will get satisfaction and your children's children will point to it with pride and declare "My grandparent was an artist.  This is some of their work".

Elbert taught hundreds of people to paint but never taught art classes.  He would patiently demonstrate, by example, and others would simply follow his lead.  They'd come by later to tell him "You've got to come to my show, I did it".

In Continuing Education classes in Santa Barbara, which gave him access to live figure models and to materials, Elbert continued his study of the human figure in paint, in mono prints, in charcoal and in clay.  Not having funds to do casting in bronze, he chose high fired, glazed clay as his sculpting medium often with colored glazes.

Elbert has continued to paint and sculpt for the last 30 years.  He participated in the local art associations and won many best of shows as well as top sculpture awards.

Winning of the "Best of Show" award  for Europa encouraged other clay sculptors to enter sculpture shows with their works in fired clay.

In 2006,  Elbert moved to Casitas Springs, California, just outside of Ventura.  His home, there, is between two mountains, a river and a bike path.   He continues to work, both painting and sculpting.

His work is done mostly in oils, with some acrylic on larger pieces.  He calls his work, Modern Realism, if a name is seriously sought after by a collector.

His work is appreciated by the people and after all, that has always been his focus.  He is neither rich nor famous but always says "I got to do the work, and after all, if you do get to do the work, then you've got NO real regrets".

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