Don Crowley

Born in Redlands, California, Don Crowley got started in the world of art at such an early age that he can’t remember a time when he wasn’t drawing. During his school years in Santa Ana, he read everything he could about art and spent every spare moment developing his skills. The G.I. Bill and service in the Merchant Marines and the Navy enabled Crowley to enroll in the Art Center School of Design in Los Angeles. Five years later he moved to New York and began a successful career in commercial illustration. After more than twenty years in the Northeast, Crowley had come to feel restricted by the narrow range of commercial work and began to work more extensively in fine art. In 1973 he accepted an invitation to exhibit his paintings at a gallery in Arizona. He was so taken with the area that he decided to continue his career there. Crowley settled with his family in the Southwest, where he began forging a relationship with a group of Native Americans. Although he is recognized and respected for many kinds of paintings, his sensitive and skilled portraits of these Apache and Paiute women and children are his best-known. Each year Don visits the San Carlos Reservation to continue chronicling the lives of his subjects. “I hope that my work expresses the beauty and dignity of these very special people,” he says. His handsome, clear portraits of Native American women and children and their colorful Pendleton blankets are signature works. In fact, long-time collectors of his work may see the subject as both a girl and a woman, wearing the colorful, geometrically patterned blanket that is handed down from generation to generation. In 1995, he was elected to the Cowboy Artists of America and, in his first year, won the CA Gold Medal for Drawing. The following year he was awarded four awards: a Gold Medal for Oil, Silver Medal for Drawing, the CA Award and the Kieckhefer Best in Show Award. With customary dry humor, Crowley termed this accomplishment very encouraging. In 2003, Desert Dreams: The Western Art of Don Crowley was published. (1926 -2019)

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