by Christy Rodriguez de Conte
Eluster Richardson returns home to the beloved LeMoyne Arts gallery with a “Passionate Journey” to share his latest landscapes and devotion to motion in his figurative paintings. The exhibit opens Jan. 19 and runs through Feb. 25.
Richardson surrounds himself with joy and art; his house is known as the gallery by his close friends. Richardson’s urge to paint has consumed him since he was a young boy in the public schools of Tallahassee. Although access and support for the arts were limited, by the 7th grade, his school had an official art room.
There was no turning back for Richardson. He attended Tallahassee Community College, where he won a few awards for his art, and later continued to complete his studies at Florida State University. As it was for many men of the time, Richardson was drafted to Vietnam, where he put down his paintbrush to serve his country admirably.
His military experience in communications eventually led him to a 32-year career as a network engineer for a telephone company. Even in this position, his art dominated his life. “My artwork kind of dominated what I really did all every day,” says Richardson. “I worked hand in hand with the public relation department… creating advertisements along with my engineering duties.”
Decades later, Richardson has grown into a renowned painter known globally for his portraits, landscapes, and watercolors. Still, he remains loyal to Tallahassee. “I grew up here in Tallahassee… As time went on, I wanted to grow with the city. The city is growing in the cultural arts, so I wanted to grow with it; so, here I am,” chuckles Richardson.
Many artists that show throughout the Florida coast paint the landscape of St. Mark’s lighthouse or boats along the Carrabelle river. Although Richardson acknowledges its popularity and his take on finding character and culture within the location, he finds himself drawn to form.
“My favorite is figurative work. I love to do people. People in motion, emotion. I paint my daughter 99% of the time; she is a dancer. I use her as a model for my work. She’s been modeling for me since the beginning,” recalls Richardson, “Most people grow up with photo albums; she grew up with paintings. These paintings are all over the country, nationally. Of course, that’s the legacy I will leave her.”
Richardson fondly tells of the proud artistic moment when he crossed the worlds of performance and dance with art. He arranged, studied, and painted a series of people in motion, dancing and moving. His work evokes emotion that leaped off the screen, joining bodies in movement by the dancers who attended. The exhibition was a culmination of Richardson’s ability to find and share emotion through painting.
When Richardson was a young boy under the canopies of Tallahassee, the goal, the dream was to do a show at the Lemoyne Art Gallery. Richardson describes it as the place to be of the 1960s and 70s in the Tallahassee art scene.
This gallery has aged as finely as the artists it produces. Richardson is pleased to return to Lemoyne Art Gallery, where he originated as a junior high school winner of an art competition that ended with his own work benign displayed. Now, he’s honored to bring his latest work to a place that nurtured his curiosity in the world and art itself.
“I used to do the circuit of art festivals. I’ve been from Detroit to Maimi. I was in Coconut Grove for a while,” says Richardson, “Panama City to St. Petersburg, I’ve done all those festivals.” His work has been seen at the Smithsonian in a midwife exhibition, and his artwork was featured as the 1965 Voting Rights Act Official Commemorative Stamp for the United States Post Office.
Yet, Richardson admits he is delighted to return to LeMoyne Arts Gallery for their new exhibition, a Passionate Journey.
“It’s home.” He states, simply but truthfully. Equally, he wishes audiences simply feel what he feels through the series of works he has compiled to show in landscapes and his newest love, 3D bronze sculptures. No matter the medium, his goal remains to tell a story while simultaneously capturing the feeling and movement in the moment.
Richardson’s work will leave you with the impulse toward joy and movement, a feeling that palpably lives in the artist himself.
Read the article on the Tallahassee Democrat.