Texas ‘Artlaw’ Boyd Elder Mounts Skull Art Exhibit in Austin

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Legendary Texas multi-media artlaw Boyd Elder mounts a rare exhibition of his original “American Fetish – RIP” painted and adorned animal skull art at the Bale Creek Allen Gallery in Austin, Texas, opening on Friday, July 15.

elder-boyd-4x4-bale-creek-allen-austin-flyerElder is scheduled to attend the opening reception that evening starting at 7.

Titled “4×4,” the exhibit features four major works – two of Elder’s original skulls from the “American Fetish” series, plus previously unseen aluminum prints of his Grammy-nominated cover art for Eagles’ 1975 multi-million-selling “One of These Nights” album, and the band’s 1976 follow-up, “Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975).”

Born in El Paso, Texas, in January 1944, Elder has described himself as an artistic child, “cursed with the blessing” of a vivid imagination.

He earned accolades and awards for his early multi-media works and journeyed to the West Coast in 1963 to study at the Chouinard Institute, now part of California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, California.

On the way to earning a BFA at Chouinard in 1968, funded by successive Disney art scholarships, Elder studied with Phil Lieder and Robert Graham (a Chouinard co-founder) and earned the respect of peers on the exploding 1960s California art and rock scene.

Boyd Elder One of These Nights
Eagles’ ‘One of These Nights,’ Boyd Elder, 1975.

Since those years, Elder has split his time between Texas, California, and Hawaii, experimenting with new art mediums and displaying his latest works at the occasional special exhibit.

His works range from the “American Fetish” pieces to experiments with plastics and resins, and with holographic foil and aluminum.

They’ve been exhibited nationally for more than five decades, and Elder art has been collected by some of the contemporary art world’s most diverse and reputable collectors.

Valentine, Rick Griffin, and Skull Art Inspiration

Elder is a longtime resident of the tiny West Texas town of Valentine, population about 175, located 40 miles south of Van Horn and 400 miles due west of Austin.

Boyd Elder Eagles Their Greatest Hits skull art
Eagles’ ‘Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975),’ cover art sculpture by Boyd Elder, 1976.

Valentine’s a little more than a wide spot on two-lane U.S. Highway 90, but Elder’s roots there are deep. His great-grandfather, William Eli Bell, was among the men who platted the town for settlement in the early 1880s.

Elder the younger’s studio fills an abandoned ‘30s-vintage Standard Oil gas station on the highway, which parallels the Southern Pacific Railroad tracks that run through town on the way to points east and west.

He’s a loner and eccentric, very much a product of his uncrowded West Texas upbringing, but nonetheless gifted (or cursed) with a modern artistic vision and a relentlessly restless creative spirit.

Elder was inspired to create the “American Fetish” series by a Christmas gift from close friend and former Chouinard Art Institute classmate Rick Griffin in 1972.

Griffin painted and adorned a Thanksgiving turkey breast and mailed it to Elder (pictured on Elder’s head, below right; photo by Griffin’s friend Randy Nauert).

Boyd Elder and painted turkey breast from Rick Griffin. Photo by Randy Nauert.Elder expanded on the concept, adding Native American and Texan-Southwest motifs.

A year earlier, on April 2, 1972, Elder had exhibited a series of disc-shaped megalithic cast resin sculptures reaching seven feet tall at his notorious “Chingadero Show” in a Venice, California art gallery.

Attending the opening party were early Elder supporters and collectors Jackson Browne, Joni Mitchell, Cass Elliot, David Geffen, Ned Doheny, Mark Volman of The Turtles, Woodstock/Monterey Pop photographer Henry Diltz, rock and roll art director Gary Burden. Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Randy Meisner, and Bernie Leadon, as the event’s musical entertainment, played their first show in public as Eagles that night, two months before Geffen’s Asylum label released their first album.

Frey and Henley thought Elder’s art perfectly projected their band’s image, and eventually secured the rights to use the art for the two covers, the fourth and fifth Eagles albums released by Asylum Records.

READ MORE: Boyd Elder – Encounters of the Southwestern Kind (1978)

Eagles’ “One of These Nights” earned a Grammy nomination for package designer and Elder friend Gary Burden, and quadruple-platinum status for initial sales of more than four million copies in the United States in 1975-76, according to the Recording Industry Association of America.

Boyd Elder's 'El Chingadero Show' poster by Rick Griffin
“El Chingadero” poster by Rick Griffin, courtesy Boyd Elder.

The band’s “Their Greatest Hits” went on to become the U.S.’s biggest-selling album of the 20th century, and the second-best-selling album ever (after Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”), at more than 29 million copies, per the RIAA. While most don’t know the artist’s name, music fans around the world immediately recognize Elder’s iconic images as the Eagles covers.

One of Elder’s later experimental creations, a set of discs 7½ feet in diameter titled “Corona,” now hangs in the Psychology Department at Stanford University. Elder says the work represents “a section of space one might have if one sliced Saturday in half.”

In recent years Elder has become a major figure in the growth of the contemporary art community in Marfa, Texas, about 25 miles south of Valentine on U.S. 90.

skull-art-artlaw-boyd-elder-valentine-042215-skp
Boyd Elder looks north from Valentine along U.S. 90, April 22, 2015. Photo: Stephen K. Peeples.

He’s also earned international notoriety as the official representative of the Prada Marfa art installation on the highway just west of his studio.

Elder has been the subject of numerous media profiles in outlets over the years, including NPR, Rocky Mountain Musical Express, and Texas Highways.

His celebrated work will be on view at the Bale Creek Allen Gallery and open to the public from Friday, July 15 through Sunday, August 28, 2016. The gallery is located at 916 Springdale Road, Building 2, #103, Austin, Texas, 78702. The phone is 512-633-0545.

For more information about the exhibit, sponsored by Treana, Troublemaker Red Wine, and Tito’s Handmade Vodka, visit the gallery’s Facebook page.

Ed. Note: This is an expanded version of the press release Stephen K. Peeples wrote for the Bale Creek Allen Gallery.


Article: Texas Artlaw Boyd Elder Mounts Skull Art Exhibit in Austin
Category: News and Reviews
Author: Stephen K. Peeples
Article Source: stephenkpeeples.com