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Not one bound by the traditional, to say the least, some have labelled Richard Van Vliet's work “Southwestern” (some pieces do resemble that style), while others have called it “Fantasy”, and some have even compared him to masters like Salvador Dali. Van Vliet is one of the most unique artists of our time, that much is for sure.
Richard Van Vliet is influenced by several styles of the 20th and 21st centuries, from fantasy landscape to abstract expressionism to psychedelic. While his focus in school was ceramics, in recent years, he has primarily done acrylic and mixed media on canvas and quite prolific over the last 30 years. Van Vliet studied under Maynard Tischler at the University of Denver in the early nineteen-seventies, a period which comes through in the spirit of his art (and not to be confused with another artist & musician of that era, Don Van Vliet, aka Captain Beefhart, who performed with Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention; no relation).
Residing in Colorado for the past 45 years, Richard was born in Amarillo, TX., growing up during the Cold War with his three brothers. He was a drum major in high school, and in the mid 1960's, a drummer in The Page Boys, a band that toured with big acts such as The Yardbirds, The Turtles, The Everly Brothers, The Beau Brummels, Tommy Roe, and The Mindbenders. He transferred from the University of Texas to the University of Denver in 1970, where he studied fine arts under Maynard Tischler and earned his BFA. Van Vliet painted sporadically until the mid 1980’s, when he began a long period of creativity which continues to this day.
Van Vliet's art comes from journeys within and without, to such places like Sedona, Flagstaff, Crestone, Taos, Santa Fe, or Boulder... and very much from music of the 1960's, as both a performer and spectator. From Red Rocks Ampitheater, where he saw The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix at Mile High Stadium, Led Zeppelin at the Denver Colliseum, The Rolling Stones at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, The Grateful Dead at Folsom Field at the University of Colorado at Boulder, Santana and The Who at Mammoth Events Center in Denver, to many artists and musicians from the 60's and early 70's such as Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, The Who, Jethro Tull, Steely Dan, Joni Mitchell, Eric Clapton, Traffic, Jeff Beck. In recent years, musical influence on his work also comes from jazz and jazz fusion artists like Pat Metheny, Lyle Mays, Herbie Hancock, Weather Report, Chic Corea, Miles Davis, and the ECM label, the jazz fusion and new age music label out of Germany began by Manfred Eichler.
Of course, music from within Richard's close family (he has three brothers, including pianist David Van Vliet) and extended family has influenced his work as well. Many sessions at his high altitude retereat at Webber Park, Colorado, near the old mining town of Tarryall in South Park with neighbors and friends like Doug Grow, Kim Stone, formerly of Spyro Gyra, and many others, including his stepson, multi-instrumentalist Timmy Hogan, have come to inform his legacy of mind expanding artwork.
Alongside his wife, Elizabeth, Richard loves to paint while listening to jazz, yet also while watching his favorite sports teams, the Denver Nuggets, Colorado Rockies, and Denver Broncos. Artists are one of a kind.
Richard working on Eggdrop circa 2012
Richard with friend and neighbor, woodcarver Jack Sworowski at Webber Park, CO
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