WILLY BO RICHARDSON remembers the day his daughter asked, with an eight-year-old’s irrepressible candor, if he could paint anything other than stripes. “It was breakfast, and we had a sketchbook on the table, so I immediately started to draw things. ‘There, see?’” he told her, pointing to his rendering of a bagel. “‘I can draw.’”
“We had a good laugh,” he says, “but it’s good once in a while to question motivations and methods.” He’s quick to point out, however, “They’re not stripes!”
Richardson’s vertical strokes of bold, vibrant colors are a study in the twin forces of gravity and his own creativity. His colors, in both watercolor and oil paints, vibrate against one another, pulling viewers into a rainbow of movement. Brushstrokes are large and loose, or narrow and tight. Colors edge playfully over one another. A dense, bright red breaks up a field of calming blues. Each painting can stimulate or soothe, and sometimes both. “Vertical strokes are not a random choice,” he says. “Gravity makes all objects fall to the center of the earth, and that shapes my work.”
… Willy Bo Richardson is blowing that myth to smithereens. His large canvases startle and crack the energy of a room wide open. Vertical lines in bold sequences of color — deep ocean blue abuts turquoise abuts orange; the lines distinct yet congruent, separate yet in league. Though he was already successful when he applied to BAP (his works hang in the corporate headquarters of Loomis Sayles and Adobe Systems, among others, and were part of a prestigious 70-year retrospective of abstract art that included Jackson Pollock), he had no business training and felt his skills were lacking. The yearlong tuition-free fellowship taught him how to create measurable goals and then actually measure them; it encouraged him to dream big. Last year, he began to expand his work into the realm of architectural and interior design offerings, including textiles, and recently he initiated a partnership with the design firm Designtex.
Reporter John Shannon talks with Santa Fe based Artist Willy Bo Richardson who, through intense practice of martial arts, overcame a crippling sensitivity to chemicals in paint and cleaning solvents that threatened to upend his career as a painter.
Danae Falliers and Willy Bo Richardson have a two-person show of recent works at Surroundings, the landscape-design firm that took over James Kelly’s excellent and hugely missed gallery in the Railyard District. The two artists offer a fine complement to each other’s lushly minimalist visions (no, that’s not an oxymoron—as you can see below). Falliers’ composite-based photography turns landscape, libraries, fabrics, and streets into rhythmic grids and dazzling sweeps of color. Richardson makes opulent, vertically striped paintings that he describes as “philosophy in motion.” In his artist’s statement, he says “I began with proportion and painted vertical lines as a measuring device. This evolved into my current practice. I did not know this would become a multi-decade body of work. I simply fell in love with something, and as it unfolded it touched me on more profound levels.” This small but vibrant show is well worth a visit during an indefinite run.
Professional Artist Magazine interview for a piece titled “Strategic Planning in Action: Notes from the Field”. The issue can be found in bookstores and online here: December 2017 Issue
A good strategic plan answers three key questions: What do you do? Who do you do it for? And what do you need to do it well? ~ Elaine Grogan Luttrull
“Richardson knew he needed a partner with expertise within the architectural and design world who had a solid understanding of technology. But there was more. Richardson took his “high studio standards” to a new level last year when he became sensitized to solvents. He wasn’t able to be around anything toxic, so his studio practices and environment became toxin-free. That meant he needed to find a partner who adhered to the same standards… And he did.”
“Galleries are scrambling toward nationally relevant contemporary art,” says Willy Bo Richardson, a Santa Fe-born painter whose internationally acclaimed canvases of fluid vertical strokes hang at Canyon Road’s Turner Carroll Gallery. “The quaint notion of going to Santa Fe to buy howling coyote art is thankfully disappearing.”
Luxury and Lifestyle Magazine VIRTUOSO LIFE July/August 2016 – Santa Fe Travel
Turner Carroll Gallery welcomes into their space this month three new artists, with styles ranging from minimalist to maximalist and abstract to representational. Willy Bo Richardson, Fausto Fernandez, and Jamie Brunson share a certain spirited sensibility, but their methods of representation vary so dramatically that any one-line comparison between their practices wouldn’t suffice.