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