Richard C. Elliott (1945-2008), born in Portland, Oregon, found that Ellensburg, WA was his heart’s home. It was from there that he created his life’s works in art and created the family and civic life that meant so much to him as well. After getting a BA in art and economics, he began during the 1970s to make meticulous drawings of his friends and other subjects from his daily life, using light and form to weave images of a particular moment in time. By the early 1980s, however, he found that drawing limited his desire and ability to bring these elements together and he began to explore primary colors and light active materials. By the late 1980s, he had identified his medium of choice: the safety reflector. For the next 20 years he would create a wide body of “reflector art”- safety reflectors arrayed as two-dimensional geometric designs mounted onto various media platforms – that would become the basis for his numerous local and regional exhibitions and commissioned public works. This work also led to his related explorations in neon, and finally, in the last year of his life, to computer-generated graphics utilizing thousands of different colors and geometric designs.
During his lifetime, Dick created more than reflector art; he also created a wide variety of works on paper, paintings, prints, and sculptures that he created while he was heavily influenced by his interest in the primal sources of art. From his earliest days as a VISTA volunteer with the Inuits in Alaska and the Makah tribe in Neah Bay, to his study of Australian Aboriginal art, performance art, and continuing with his efforts to get to the root of light and its play in form, Richard’s work was a lifelong exploration of color and pattern in his quest to know, feel, and express the primal sources of art.
In 1971, Dick married Jane Orleman, and moved back to Portland to join his father and uncle in the family business. A couple of endless fun and good will, they humorously created their own business, home and eventually an art blog site called “Dick and Jane’s Spot” to support and live out their dreams together. He was extensively involved with the local community – the University, galleries, museum, and various city boards and commissions, including many years as chairman of the downtown task force. There he not only brought business skill and his keen artistic acumen, but he also found great pleasure in working with others to enhance the beauty of Ellensburg, WA.
In 2008, Richard C. Elliott received both the Governor’s Award in the Arts from the Washington State Art Commission (ArtsWA) and the Recognition for Innovation in Public Art from Americans for the Arts in Philadelphia, PA. ArtsWA also purchased and installed over 30 “reflector art” works in public schools throughout the state. POBA thanks ArtsWA and Dick Elliott’s wife, Jane Orleman, for their assistance in making these displays possible.