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Ray Swanson

Birth place or City of origin: Alcester
State of origin: SD
Last known City: Prescott
Last known State: AZ
Start/Birth date: 1937
Death/End date: 2004

Collectors from all over the world seek out the art of Ray Swanson. He depicts both the native peoples and their way of life with tenderness and dignity. His style is considered as representational with every detail clearly visible. Wholly self-taught realist painter, Swanson was born in Alcester, South Dakota in 1937, moved to Carefree than Prescott, Arizona until his death in 2004. Swanson is best known for his paintings of Native Americans. His friendly, soft-spoken persona found a welcoming response on the Navajo, Hopi, Zuni and Apache reservations. He documented hundreds of Indians, young and old, many of whom had become members of his extended family, painted from birth through adolescence to maturity. He showed them caring for their flocks, processing the wool that will become a fine rug, weaving baskets, making piki bread or carving kachinas. His interior scenes are noted for the dramatic lighting and for the still life compositions so carefully constructed using his subject’s own tools and objects. In 1979, he was named “Arizona Artist of the Year” and in 1986 was voted into membership of the prestigious Cowboy Artist’s of America, which he served as president at the time of his death in 2004. He was a beloved artist and friend to all those who knew him, and will be sorely missed.


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