Gallery Artists > J.R. Willis Biography :

J.R. Willis (1876 - 1960)  Artworks >>

Joseph Roy (J. R.) Willis (1876-1960) was a legend in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He was a slim gent with a small mustache. He wore capes. He twirled canes. He smoked Pall Malls (cigarettes) in an ivory holder. He loved, more than anything, to discuss his paintings. Albuquerque old- timers, who were fascinated by his floppish bearing, remember him for his flair, and a flakiness that today would be considered weird. J. R. Willis was just different. He was an artist. He came from the Southeast to chronicle the Great Southwest. J. R. Willis learned art on slates. He made fashion drawings for the Atlanta Constitution. He painted backdrops for Universal Studios in Hollywood. In 1917, J. R. Willis left for New York to discuss cartoon syndication. He stopped in Arizona to sketch Hopis. He decided to stay in the Great Southwest. He moved to Gallup and set himself up as a photographer, and toured the reservations to photograph Navajos, Hopis, Zunis, Lagunas and Acomas. He would then use the photos as sources for his paintings. Reference:

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