Larry Eifert –
Straight ahead with the same old thing……..
I like to think to myself as a third generation naturalist and fifth-generation social activist. Some of that might be a stretch, but it gives me guidance never-the-less. I sometimes imagine the billions of choices I could have had for parents, and always feel fortunate I happened along this specific road this time around. I was born in 1946 and exposed to nature and a pencil before I could walk. After nearly four thousand paintings later (to the best of my counting ability), I still get a real charge from creating art about nature. The year 2006 could probably be considered my 40th anniversary of making a living as an artist.
Led Down The Path!
Home was Springfield Illinois, where my mother (author and illustrator of 20 books – mostly about nature) was editor of a museum nature magazine for 36 years. Her work is still in print after 50 years – and, like me, she thought nothing of traveling 5,000 miles on various river workboats for book research – or hiring a fishing boat to get to those remote refuge islands off the Gaspe Peninsula in Quebec Canada.My dad was very influential too. As education curator for the Illinois State Museum with a double-masters in ecology and English, shepherded thousands of kids (and me, too) through the museum. He also instilled in me a reverance for life. As an Army GI in WW2, he never carried a gun, although he was shot at by snipers he could clearly see in the hills above the camp in New Caledonia. “Shoot a gun, you’re out of the family,” I remember hearing often. From these pretty rarefied beginnings, I gained early mentoring from both parents and museum staff – and never really looked back. Mine is a continuing passion instilled from many sources, from the boyhood time spent at, say, Rachel Carson’s home in Maine, to the museum babysitters who said “Here – draw this giraffe and don’t bug us.” To me, life was all about nature and discovering it.
Let’s Not Waste Any Time About It!
I opened my first retail art gallery in 1968 at age 21 in Waubaushene, Ontario Canada-and I’ll bet you’ve never heard of the place. To me, it was an early beginning for something that flowered later. Those were days of dog-sledding to the post office, bus rides with Eskimos and Indians heading for Toronto, buying fire-smoked moose clothing to sell in the store – and learning how to be an artist. Money was, well, tight!After coming to the Pacific Northwest in 1972 in search of “rainy forests and wind-swept beaches,” I opened the Eifert Gallery in Ferndale California, and during the 1980’s and early 90’s and exhibited both my own work and many other artists. It was here that I learned about painting parks and availing my work to them too.
The success in Ferndale allowed me to hone my skills and gain a much wider national audience. By 1990, I had expanded my vision to include parks, refuges and non-profits as clients for large specific commissions. With Nancy Cherry Eifert, who also contributes to many of these projects and really runs the business side of all this, I have succeeded beyond anything imaginable – at least for me. I now believe that no American artist, living or dead, has painted more (and installed more) art in our National Parks. It’s a great honor, to say the least! But this takes two to make it work. Without Nancy’s unwavering support and help, it just wouldn’t have happened!Today, Nancy and I live in Port Townsend, Washington near Olympic National Park. Check out our STUDIO PAGE for details.
A Short But Wide Road
It’s difficult to believe that here I am now in my early 60’s, still plugging away at the same old discipline I began so long ago. And it seems, in some ways, like I just began this only yesterday. I can’t see any difference in my approach to this life, except I don’t care to sleep on the cold ground as often as I once did.
Lots of fun projects and experiences have come and gone, like the two 90-foot walls Nancy and I painted in the Mojave Desert to teach locals about their own backyard. Such as the park visitor center mural that was being painted in a garage, and a desert tortoise just walked in from the desert to be a model, just when I needed him. Nancy fed him greens while i painted him.
Or the trip from Seattle to Alaska on my classic wooden sloop, or the second trip down Baja into the Sea of Cortez aboard our 50′ ketch, painting all the way and mailing the work back to the gallery at home – and returning to find all the paintings had been sold so I didn’t get to see a one.In fact, it has ALL been a wonderful journey and I surely hope it continues for some time to come! Most importantly, a deep and sincere thanks to so many people that believed in what I do to support it. Without this sustaining help none of it would have happened.
|These all enlarge with a clickThe early years:
Virginia Eifert at the Illinois State Museum in Springfield Illinois. The sign above the exhibit reads: “Virginia Deer”, a set-up surely planned by Virginia.Cumberland Falls Kentucky Little five-year old kid with a brownie box camera – not much has changed today.Atop Fall River Pass, 12,000′ in Rocky Mountain National Park. Lichens held a fastination then, and now. Age 7Take off your glasses for the camera! And the moment this photo was taken, Virginia’s sunglasses slid off the rock and into the river. They’re probably still there below Hallett Peak.40 years later Larry painted a mural of this place.The artist as work, painting his name in the snowfield. Age 5More than anything, water holds a fastination. Nine Mile Lake, Northern Wisconsin’s Nicolette National Forest, age 7. A half century later, Larry painted a 130′ mural for a wildlife refuge just to the south.