Organizations* : AOA, NAWA
Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Wilson Hurley became a painter in the luminous style of the American West, especially known for his depictions of Canyon de Chelly, Yellowstone Park, and the Grand Canyon. Although he has been living in Albuquerque, New Mexico since 1952, Hurley’s early childhood was spent in Leesburg, Virginia, after the family left Tulsa in 1928. By 1936, they were spending summers in New Mexico, and Hurley was enrolled in the Los Alamos School, graduating in 1942.
That same year, he entered the U.S. Military Academy. In 1945, he graduated and was commissioned a second lieutenant, flying in an air-sea rescue unit in the Philippines until 1949. At that time, Hurley resigned his commission in the Air Force and entered George Washington Law School, where he earned his degree in 1951. Hurley practiced law in New Mexico, primarily in Albuquerque, for over a decade.
Although Hurley went from the military to practicing law, his commitment to painting began at an early age. He was exposed to many fine painters in New Mexico during his childhood, courtesy of his mother. Knowing his interest and talent, she arranged for him to spend time as a teenager with artists such as Theodore Van Solen, Josef Bakos, and John Young-Hunter. Hurley continued to paint while practicing law and flying in the New Mexico National Guard. However, since 1964, Hurley has devoted himself full time to painting, an occupation interrupted by serving in the Vietnam War during 1968 and 1969. His interest in broad vistas, mountains, canyons, and clouds is probably the result of his flying experience, although he enjoys painting still lifes, as well as a variety of other subjects.
A few years after turning to painting full-time, Hurley became a member of the National Academy of Western Art, and in 1984, he was given the Prix de West Purchase Award by the National Cowboy Hall of Fame. Other exhibition venues include the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, the Rockwell Museum in Corning, New York, the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum and the Gilcrease Museum. Hurley has also been featured in American Artist, Persimmon Hill, Artists of the Rockies, Art of the West, and Southwest Art.
In 1991, Hurley painted five large murals for the new addition to the Cowboy Hall of Fame, each celebrating the beauty of the western landscapes of Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, California, and Wyoming. He titled this series, Windows of the West because of the diversity of geographical locations. His objective with this majestic series was to “show a view of the world passed through another’s mind.”