Friday, January 1, 2010

George Allen Durkee

Happy New Year everyone! To begin 2010 I want to share a most interesting artist with you. He currently lives in Murphy, CA and has graciously agreed to come to Auburn next Tues morning (Jan 5th) and put on a painting demonstration for the Placer Artists League (PAL) of which I'm Co-Chair in charge of programing. The time is 10:00 a.m. and the location is the Placer Arts Building, 808 Lincoln Way, Auburn, CA. For those of you who are local there is no charge and everyone is welcome. Here is more info about him:

George Allen Durkee gave up a successful career painting streetscapes in San Francisco to, as he put it, " keep his work fresh." He needed a new challenge which he found in junkyards. Even his streetscapes were kind of funky but he really went wild in junkyards. He even went so far recently as to have "40 or so collectors" over to his first Annual Junkyard BBQ. It was a huge success. (photo available)

George recently authored a new book Expressive Oil Painting-An Open Air Approach to Creative Landscapes which is published by North Light Books, a well known and respected publisher of art books. He has had articles published in The Artist Magazine" and "The American Artist" magazine. He is co-owner of an Art Gallery in Murphy, CA with his artist wife, Sharon Strong. I have this book and it is great for artists of every level.
George says he was no child prodigy, "I didn't get into painting until I was twenty-five". There was no art school available so he signed up for a mail order course. "You're just kidding yourself, " someone told him, "You'll have to wait 'til your dead before your paintings will be worth anything." "So began the unorthodox career of this accomplished California artist." His paintings are worth plenty and he isn't dead.

"When I stopped last summer to watch George Allen Durkee painting in San Francisco, I knew I'd discovered a different kind of artist. Durkee is the Coca Cola of urban Painters - the real thing. His paintings are so energetic, so full of life, that I wanted to discover just how it is that this solitary painter, standing alone on an ordinary street corner, could conjure up such inspiration. Last October (1995), I met with George and recorded to my delight the following conversation......Rex Lampman". (Taken from George's website:

"Some people paint barefoot in quiet, sky lit studios with flowered rugs and music to match their moods. Me, I'm a more public kind of painter. That's why I pilot my motorcycle, loaded with art gear, south across the Golden Gate Bridge, into San Francisco. My studio is the sidewalk, and my music is the cacophony of characters clomping on the San Andreas Fault. I prowl the city streets on my Honda, searching for the perfect subject. I can't tell you what I look for, but when I find it, I know because I want to rush start mixing paint right away. I see the spot! Jumping the curb, I park my bike. The pavement shudders as a bus rolls by. Unfolding my easel I claim half of the sidewalk - pedestrians detour around. From the box locked to my Honda, I slide out six finished paintings and prop them up in view of passersby.........." (taken from his article "Scenes From a Sidewalk Studio" published in The Artist Magazine.)

"The faces behind the red door of the Art Gallery in Murphys bring life, love and art to the country and the world. Artists George Durkee and Sharon Strong share the cozy two-story gallery on Main Street, filled with mystical masks, colorful landscape paintings and even a small sitting area............"

"At age 14 Durkee ran away from his home near Seattle to lead a more independent life. He lived on the streets and in a hideout in a park in Tacoma. During this time, Durkee had no interest in art whatsoever. 'I was interested in girls,' he admitted, wearing paint-streaked jeans during an interview at the gallery. It wasn't until age 25, while working on a farm pruning apple trees, that Durkee discovered art. He was living in Yakima and his employer, Irene Watkins, was an amateur artist and a 'Sunday painter." (From an article by Kate Gonzales,, 2/15/07)

"......It's not enough to paint things the way they really look. We have photography and video cameras for that. Artists need to go beyond simply reproducing the physical appearance of things. Emerson said, 'Art is nature seen through a temperament.' Art is painting the guts of a subject. We cannot be overly concerned with perfection. Painting is messy. The painting will be whatever it turns out to be................." (From George's 8/25/07 Blog, We Walk on Quicksand.)
There is much more to be gleaned from George's website
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