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Dick Elliott: Painting with Light
Late artist Richard C. "Dick" Elliott (1945-2008) is known for his large-scale, sculptural installations created with industrial highway reflectors. His art uses light, color, and radiant geometric patterns to explore the variations of light and dynamic interactions between colors. He called it "painting with light."
Born in Portland, Oregon, Dick Elliott earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in art and economics from Central Washington University in Ellensburg in 1971. He joined the AmeriCorps VISTA program and served in an Alaska Native community in Pilot Station, Alaska (1966-67), and with the Makah Tribe in Neah Bay, Washington (1968-69). These years were very important to him. In the 1980s, he began to explore primary colors and light-active materials. By 1987, he decided to focus on the safety reflector as his medium of choice. During the 1990s and 2000s, Elliott received over twenty public art commissions, including at the Henry Art Museum in Seattle, the Hallie Ford Museum of Art in Salem, Oregon, and Times Square, New York City. During the last year of his life while he was physically limited, he created a series of computer-generated prints using thousands of colors and geometric designs. During the last year of his life while he was physically limited, he created a series of computer-generated prints using thousands of colors and geometric designs. In 2007, Elliott was honored with a Washington State Governor's Arts and Heritage Award and the "Recognition for Innovation in Public Art" from Americans for the Arts. Most of his work and life was based in Ellensburg, and he was an important contributor to its visual arts community.
In 2021, the Washington State Legislature approved the funding for the restoration of Dick Elliott's 'Circle of Light' at the Yakima Valley SunDome. At least half of the artwork’s 50,000 colorful reflectors have fallen off in the decades since its installation in 1992. All of the remaining reflectors will be removed from around the artwork’s 880 feet span and replaced. Click to read more about the 'Circle of Light' restoration.
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