Walt Walker, Artist
Walt Walker has painted more African-American art than anyone else in the country and hehas numerous prints for sale to prove it.

Walt was the first Black artist to open an art gallery in Los Angeles in the 60's.

Here the opportunity to sample the work of one of the premier black artists in the world. Walker's subject matter ranges from authentic paintings of African Tribesmen and women to figures in urban settings. He is especially fond of black children and several of his paintings feature them.

As native of Detroit's Black Bottom ghetto, and the son of entrepreneurs, Walker arrived in Los Angeles in 1948, and quickly discovered that there was no place for black artists to exhibit their works. He remembers the Monday night art walks that used to take place at the La Cienega Boulevard art galleries between Wilshire and Sunset Boulevards. He recalls how disappointed he was that he didn't see the works of one black artist or one black subject.  That, he said, is when he decided to paint some art featuring black subjects, rent a place to exhibit the pieces, and see if he could sell them. He rented a place near the intersection of Crenshaw Boulevard and 48th Street and called it the LeJan Gallery, a combination of his and his wife's names, and stocked it with 25 paintings created for the occasion.

"Nobody had any confidence that I was doing the right thing," Walker said. "People call the art ugly."

But the art sold, and soon other black artist were exhibiting along with him and the gallery was featuring a variety of African-American art styles.

"I discovered that black males are easy to sell to," Walker said. "They come alone, look at something, and, if they like it, buy it. Black women bring friends and they'll stand there and debate about the color of the painting and its possible placement in their home."

Walker is especially proud of his paintings of African Natives. He researches his subjects and their dress, hair, makeup, and clothing styles to ensure his paintings are as life-like as possible.

It is difficult to make a living solely by painting, and over the years, Walker has supplemented his income by working as a commercial or graphic artist for Safeway Grocery Stores, Norm's Restaurants, and for the Lakers and Kings at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood, California. His work at the Great Western Forum was so impressive that it led to the one and only art show at the Forum, sponsored by Mr. Jack Kent Cooke. The logos on the floors of the Great Western Forum's ice rink and boxing ring were painted by Walt Walker.

When he worked for Safeway, Walt traveled all over California, Arizona, and Nevada, painting luscious fruits, meats, vegetables, bread, pies, and other foods on newly opened store walls to entice customers to buy more.

Walt was educated at the Detroit Institute of Technology, the Detroit Museum of Art and the Metropolitan College of Los Angeles. Walt was also honored with a Honorariums Doctor of Fine Arts from the City University Los Angeles. Walt also was honored by the city of Los Angeles with a proclamation for his contributions to the black community.

"None can be perfect, but all can aim at perfection. When we aim high enough, we reach a quality in our work that we can be proud of. I've always used this as a guide when I work. I hope people will get as much pleasure as I did creating them." Mr. Walker said

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