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 Lawrence Leroy Whitaker  (1889 - 1966)

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Lived/Active: Pennsylvania      Known for: mining and logging figure, genre

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Ad Code: 4
AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
Landscape #2
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Lawrence "Dick" Whitaker was born July 26, 1889 in Reynoldsville, Pennsylvania, about 70 miles northeast of Pittsburgh. He showed an interest in drawing at an early age. At the age of fifteen his mother enrolled him in a correspondence course for cartooning and furnished him with an art studio in their home. After high school, he took a job as a commercial artist in Pittsburgh. After marrying he wanted to live in a rural setting, so they choose Windber, Pennsylvania, a small coal mining company type town.

He worked as a barber, but painting was his ambition. His style was primitive realism. His subject, almost exclusively was the life of the coal-miners. He painted every aspect of it, the good times and the sad with a palette of many colors, heavily applied. His figures had an immobile, statuesque attitude, and objects in his paintings such as trees, machinery, and buildings, appeared weighty and petrified.

As the coal industry closed down, Whitaker painted other local subjects, the forests, logging and the maple syrup harvesting in nearby Somerset, Pennsylvania. He painted murals in several local churches, most can still be seen. He gained recognition locally, in Pittsburgh, and in New York City with the award from American Professional Art League in 1948. National prominence was realized when his painting "Pittsburgh's Golden Triangle" was reproduced on the cover of Carnegie Magazine.

Whitaker is listed in "Who's Who In American Art". His work was purchased by Phillips Memorial Gallery in Washington D.C., local schools and universities, mining schools in the West, collectors, and individuals. It is said that many of his remaining works were destroyed or lost in the Johnstown Flood of 1977.

On July 29, 1966, three days after his 77th birthday, Lawrence "Dick" Whitaker checked himself into the Windber Hospital and died the sane day.

Submitted January 2004 by M.J. Karkowsky who writes:

"I grew up in Windber, Pennsylvania, Whitaker's hometown. In my teens, which were the late 1940's, I would occasionally go to his barbershop where he would display his latest work. I was interested in drawing and painting, so I probably spent more time looking at his work than the average passerby. Years later I received my degree from Indiana University of Indiana , PA. The next thirty three years I spent teaching on the secondary level. In 1983 I took a sabbatical to travel and see art museums in Communist Germany and Poland. At this time I decided to bring together whatever facts that I could find about Lawrance Whitaker, painter."

"To do this, I went to many sources. I made copies of all the newspaper articles about him. I talked to anybody who knew him or knew of him. I went to Renoldsville, PA., and taped a conversation with his older brother and nieces. I went and saw examples of his work wherever I could find them. I visited churches and saw several of his murals."

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