|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
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:
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.
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
Serendipity Shoppe, Kennebunk, ME
Perkins Gallery, 5 Aviles St, St. Augustine, FL
Perkins Gallery, 246A San Marco Ave, St. Augustine, FL
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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