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 Sim Bruce Richards  (1908 - 1983)

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Lived/Active: California/Arizona/Oklahoma      Known for: mural painting, architecture

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
A WPA (Works Progress Administration) artist in Arizona and later a nationally renowned architect, Sim Bruce Richards, of Cherokee descent, completed a mural in 1939 celebrating the history of modern dance for the Activities Building at Arizona State University in Tempe.  He had a flat, free flowing style, and the mural included art-deco and Indian motifs that were later painted over.  He was an architect as well as artist, and of him, it was said: "Art and architecture became one, forever inseparable."

Son of an Oklahoma farming family, Richards developed a bone infection from chewing regularly on wheat kernels as a child.  In 1920, for his health, the family took him to Phoenix, Arizona.  There he would learn of Frank Lloyd Wright, whose home Taliesin was nearby.  In the Phoenix area, while studying art, Richards also learned about weaving of abstract rug designs from master-weaver Melanie Murdoch.  Several years later, in 1934, while Richards was studying at Cal Berkeley (1930-34), he was singled out by Frank Lloyd Wright who saw his rug designs on display at an art show in San Francisco.

"In an instant Bruce was snatched up by Wright, plucked out of his last year in art at Berkeley and transported to Taliesin, after Wright had seen a display of Bruce’s weavings."  The communication between the two men was caught in a single sentence written by Phyllis Van Doren: “They went into the countryside and brought looms and linen warp yarns and wood and were going to teach the students to weave and dye fabrics.  It caught also the King Jamesian rhythm in which westerners used to speak, it caught their enthusiasm and their faith.  And it explains why Bruce never got back to Berkeley."  From 1934 to 1935, Richards worked for Wright in the Taliesin Fellowship program and in 1938, moved to San Diego where he had a career of many decades as an architectural designer of many homes in the style of Frank Lloyd Wright, meaning native materials were used; the site dictated the flow of the lines; and plenty of light source was incorporated into the structure.

Sources:  The quotes are from this reference.
Peter Bermingham, The New Deal in the Southwest

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