Willy Bo Richardson: Artist Profile

Willy Richardson
Willy Richardsoin, Music to Drive to at Phillips de Pury

Willy Bo Richardson, known for his vertical strokes of color, was born in Santa Fe NM. His father was a master wood-worker, and his mother founded the first mediation center in the Southwest, the Santa Fe Mediation Center. Both parents lived creative lifestyles and were artists as well. After spending 15 years away, in 2007 he returned to Santa Fe with his wife and soon to be born daughter.

In Austin TX in 1994 – 1996 he studied with Peter Saul and Linda Montano. He moved to Austin after living in India for 6 months. Montano helped him through his culture shock, by pointing out the bridge between the realm of the artist and the realm of the shaman, and Saul introduced Richardson to the concept that high and low art can exchange in dialogue and reverse. Saul’s luxurious paint surface qualities, separated from content in an almost transcendental manner remain an influence.

He followed his current wife Kim to Philadelphia in 1997. At the time, he was deciding between writing and painting. He states, “I wrote a really bad coming of age novel, and the next year I checked myself in to graduate school for painting at Pratt Institute”.

Richardson had been looking into different MFA programs in New York in 1998 when “painting was dead”.  When he visited the School of Visual Art studios, a grad student, who was tying her shoes and other personal objects to her studio floor told him, “If you want to keep painting, don’t get an MFA here.” It reminded him of a zombie film where all the painting students became installation and video artists. “Get out, while you can,” was her warning. So he went to Pratt Institute instead, the only school where the painting studios were filled with painters. Brooklyn was still a dusty neighborhood with boarded up crack houses and rent was still under $1000/month.

Richardson graduated from Pratt Institute in 2000. He worked as a painting technician at Cooper Union from 2001-2007, where he sat in on lectures, hung out in the studios with students and exchanged ideas with the teachers. He lived in New York City for a decade with his wife Kim Richardson.

Richarson’s paintings were included in “70 Years of Abstract Painting” at Jason McCoy Gallery in New York, which assembled works by modern and contemporary painters, including Josef Albers, Hans Hofmann and Jackson Pollock. In 2012 he exhibited a body of watercolors at Phillips auction house in New York. His work and vision was featured on the PBS weekly arts series ¡COLORES!. He was honored to be one of the eight SITE Santa Fe SPREAD finalists in 2014. He exhibits his paintings nationally.