Success Stories | Richard Greeves

Richard Greeves

By Bonnie Gangelhoff

To hear Richard Greeves explain it, he was predestined to sculpt bronze figures celebrating the Lewis and Clark expedition. “Being born in St. Louis, where their Corps of Discovery started out, I was surrounded by that history,” he says. “As a kid I haunted the Missouri Historical Society, one of the largest depositories of their memorabilia.” The self-taught artist credits his talent to his “gene pool,” including ornamental plaster workers in his father’s family and Italian marble cutters and mosaic artists on his mother’s side. “Modern people think you need to be educated to be something,” Greeves observes. “But you inherit more than the color of your eyes. I inherited an artistic nature, and the ability to see the world in that way.”

Born: St. Louis, MO, 1935.
Resides: Fort Washakie, WY.
Proudest accomplishment: Whatever piece I’m working on right now.
What would you have done differently in your life? I don’t like to second-guess myself. But, being self-taught, maybe if I had not been so busy doing artwork, I might have had time to study it and would have gotten to a certain point a lot quicker.


Advice to young artists: Go find someone whose work you really admire and just see if you can come in and sweep the floor and do any damn thing you can do to be around and absorb what the artist does. Don’t think you know how to do it too quickly. You need time in the harness.
Motto you have lived by over the years: One my dad instilled in me: Whenever anybody hires you to do something and they’re going to give you a dollar, you give ’em back two dollars’ worth of work.
Biggest misconception about an artist’s life: A lot of people think artists are supposed to be temperamental. But where I come from, you just get your butt in gear and do what you’ve gotta do, no ifs, ands, or buts.
How has your work changed since starting out? It’s been more a continuum than a change. Even when I look at old pieces from when I was kid, I see a lot of similarities. I guess I’ve always thought in textures. I’ve learned a lot more through life.
How has the art market changed? Western art wasn’t really thought of back in the 1960s, and I spent a pretty good span of time trying to find homes for my work. Now, the people on the East Coast, who are supposed to know everything, are finally discovering that western art is worth something.
Other interests: I like building stuff. I’ve rebuilt all my cars. I’ve built guns. And the building I’ve lived in for more than 40 years—if I need another room, I just build it.
Recent news: In February, I’ll be in the Masters of the American West show at the Autry National Center in Los Angeles.

He is represented by Legacy Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ, and Jackson, WY; Settlers West Galleries, Tucson, AZ; Simpson Gallagher Gallery, Cody, WY.

Featured in “Success Stories” in December 2009