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 Wendell Thompson Perkins  (1928 - 1997)

About: Wendell Thompson Perkins
 

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Lived/Active: Florida/Massachusetts      Known for: naive genre and regionalist painting

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Ad Code: 4
Wendell Thompson Perkins
from Auction House Records.
Attack of the Dow
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following is from Reis C. Libby of the St Augustine Historical Society-Florida:

The biography is compiled from papers and from conversations with Wendell Perkins and his life-long business partner Hartley Staley.

Wendell Thompson Perkins
Born: February 11, 1928 Boston, MA
Died: March 02, 1997 St. Augustine, FL
246A San Marco Ave, St. Augustine, FL
Subject Matter: Maritime scenes, Landscapes, Southern African- American scenes
Style: Primitivist
Methods: Oil on Canvas

BOOKS WHERE REFERENCED
The Standard Fine Art Value Guide by the Editors of Collector Books (P. 304)
Advertising in "DownEast" Magazine (Maine) July 1976, P. 26, August 1976 P. 42

SPECIAL AWARDS AND EXHIBITIONS:
Channel 6 WCSH Television Annual Sidewalk Art Festival 1969 Purchase Prize, 33 local merchants put up $150.00 each as purchase prizes to buy paintings from the artists.  They will hang the paintings in their offices or display them in store windows. Yellow Ribbon for 1969 and a purchase prize ribbon for August 21 1982 for an oil painting of a ship Belfast, purchase price $300.00 by W.T. Grants Department Store.

EXHIBITIONS:
Abercrombie & Fitch Co., NY
Bee Altman Co., NY
Peaks Island Art Association, Peaks Island, ME
Down East Magazine
Brush & Palette, St. Augustine, FL
WCSH Annual Sidewalk Art Festival, Portland, ME
Perkins Gallery, Hiram, ME
Red Shingle Arts & Crafts Shop, Bridgton, ME
St. Augustine Arts Association Gallery, St. Augustine, FL
Weyerhauser Corporation
Serendipity Shoppe, Kennebunk, ME
Perkins Gallery, 5 Aviles St, St. Augustine, FL
Perkins Gallery, 246A San Marco Ave, St. Augustine, FL

Wendell Perkins grew up in Castine, Maine, the adopted son of Martha and Joel Perkins, and as a young boy may have been influenced by the military presence there, to paint maritime scenes.  He was once asked "Where did you learn to paint?" he responded "Ive always been painting ever since I was a child.  I guess I taught myself."  Later on he would sharpen his techniques at the Portland School of Fine Arts in Portland, ME. He also said "My Father was a famous painter from France."

Perkins was dabbling with oils at the age of seven, after he had watched his Father, Joel and an older Brother, Donald, both amateurs as they painted landscapes of the area.  "My first painting was when I was seven and was of a four-mast sailing ship, which I copied from a large painting.  I used oils on that first painting and it was a horrible looking thing.  I sold it to a woman vacationer at Castine for 25 cents and I felt rich."

At 18 Wendell entered the Navy and after a two-year hitch enrolled in the Portland School of Fine Arts in Portland, ME, studying under the talented Alexander Bowers. During his two years of art study he worked in a fish factory on the Portland waterfront and lettered signs to add to his GI allowance.

Then came difficult times and misfortune.  He got into trouble with the law by passing bad checks and wound up with a one to five year sentence in the Men's Reformatory at Windham, Maine.  Superintendent Perry Hayden, described Wendell as a lonely boy that stayed by himself and a tough problem in rehabilitation.  After discovering that Wendell liked to paint; Hayden decided to let him paint.  Wendell wanted something big, so he painted the walls in the entrance with common house paints and oils and it was very good.  The murals on the walls were 6 x 2 feet in size and connected as one panoramic scene over the door.  They depict Portland Head Light on the left and a forest lake on the right.  All he needed was a postcard or picture to copy.  Completing the entrance group was a painting of the Maine State Seal facing the doorway on the third wall.

At the age of 23 he became acquainted with Hartley Staley of Bridgton, Maine and accepted an invitation to Staleys home.  He fell in love with the vacation town and immediately started painting landscapes of the surrounding area.  Then an idea was born.  Wendell's first studio was called "The Red Shingle Gift Shop and Studio" and was located in Bridgton, ME on US Rt 302.  Wendell and his new friend Hartley Staley purchased a small plot of land for the shop; bought an old garage; tore it down and rebuilt it on their newly purchased land.  The building was covered with red stained shingles, twelve foot wings were built on each side of the building to display Wendell's paintings.

Throughout the winter Wendell kept busy creating small landscapes and marines that would be mounted in small frames by Hartley.  A number of larger paintings were also turned out.  Wendell also painted cut-out wooden gulls and ducks and mounted them on the frames of marine and shore scenes.  The partners added items of interest to the shop that were made by the inmates of the State Prison in Thomeston, ME. Quilts and embroidered items made by Hartley's Aunt, Mrs. Dorothy Prescott were displayed in the shop.  In the opening of this shop; Wendell had finally realized his ambition in providing an outlet for his flair with oils. This addition to Bridgton's summertime businesses was described as "a one man show".

Then disaster struck in the form of a fire.  On a cold October morning hundreds of paintings went up in flames and smoke while artist and friend shivered in subfreezing weather and firemen stood helplessly by with waterless hoses.  Estimated loss was $15,000.  Most of the value was on canvas.

Wendell and business partner ran a restaurant in Bridgton for a time and then later moved to Portland, ME and opened a new shop and studio on Congress Street called Hartleys Antiques.  Wendell painted ships, and Hartley sold antiques.  Around 1980 the business was relocated to Windham on Rt 302 and Wendell displayed his paintings on wings on the outside of the building.

Wendell came to St. Augustine, FL and had a shop/studio on Aviles Street and later on San Marco where he started painting southern African American scenes; they sold very well.

He had his studio at home in St. Augustine, FL and his shop at the time of his death.

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