Wednesday, October 5, 2016


October 5, 2016

Currently writing my book about, `THE LIFE AND ART OF JULIAN RITTER.'

Julian disdained the very establishment he needed. He was not equipped nor inclined to deal with the politics of the `well-to do' and sophisticated art markets, and investors, in New York or elsewhere.

Steel Worker - Study for GGIE
by Julian Ritter 
Julian briefly attended the Art Institute of Chicago, then graduated from Art Center, in Los Angeles, in 1934. His first public recognition came during the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition in San Francisco, where he was hired to paint a 90' mural at the `Mines, Minerals, and Machinery Building.' Depicting the working classes of America.

Ink & Watercolor - Bimbo 365 Club
by Julian Ritter
Julian worked at the Hollywood studios, until next he was harkened to New York City, where he showed a collection of early watercolors, pen and ink sketches, along with oils. He had two shows at the Gallery of Modern Art, and the Newhouse Galleries in 1941. Wandering amongst the sophisticated snobbery of the New York elite, Julian reacted negatively out of fear and ignorance.

The 1950's would be the `Golden Age of Julian.' Invited to Chicago by Otto Eitel, where he was treated with respect and adored, Julian painted at the Bismarck Hotel, and soon at the Palace theatre where he first saw the Ringling Bros and Barnum and Bailey Circus, at the invitation of Eitel.

Bismark Hotel owned by Otto Eitel
Chicago, IL 
Mr. Whimsey by Julian Ritter
Inspired at Ringling Bros Circus


Portion of the Wall Mural at Bimbo's 365 Club San Francisco
by Julian Ritter
Hired by `Mr. Bimbo,' in early 1950, Julian would create the `Bimbos 365 Collection' of King Neptune and sensual Mermaids , which hang today at the same club, in San Francisco.

In the 1950's, Julian's trademark Salon Nudes, and Clowns, would emerge and overtake the art world where they were sold at Galleries throughout the United States and around the world.  Commissioned by the likes of Las Vegas mobsters Benny Binion and Moe Dalitz, as well as later owners of the Silver Slipper Casino, the Silver Slipper Collection, was (officially) 28 oils on masonite, and hung at the famed Silver Slipper Casino in Las Vegas from 1950 until 1988. The Silver Slipper Collection was sold by the Summa Corporation in 1988 when the Howard Hughes Estates was settled, after years of litigation, and just before the Silver Slipper was demolished.

Silver Slipper Salon Nude (Entry piece)
by Julian Ritter
Howard Hughes litigates and Wins the Silver Slipper Collection

Interior Silver Slipper Casino
circa 1950
(Julian's paintings on the wall in back)

Julian had forsworn working with Galleries and Dealers for the most part. Instead, preferring to work with a select group of Patrons who bought everything he could produce.

In the mid Fifties Julian took his family, and traipsed of to Mexico to live and to paint, before moving back to Santa Barbara, California. Then the unimaginable happened, Cancer took his true love Hilde whom he had married during the war (WWII). Forlorn and grieving, Julian embarked on the 45' yawl Galilee, to sail the south seas.

San Blas - Mexico
by Julian Ritter

Two years later this led to the scintillating pairing of Julian (59), with a new love and Muse, Laurie Kokx (18), who flew to Acapulco to meet up with Julian and then sailed off to Tahiti, aboard the Galilee. A three year adventure ensued which was culminated in 1970, when Julian and Laurie and one other crew mate, departed Tahiti, bound for Honolulu.  Ravaged by storm the Galilee was disabled, and the crew drifted, lost at sea for 89 days. Forty-Nine days with no food.

                        Sept 14, 1970 USS NIAGARA FALLS
Win, Laurie, and Julian
aproximately Sept 18
Sept 14, 1970
45' Yawl Galilee in Distress
(crew from USS Niagara Falls
preparing to tow the Galilee)

On September 14, 1970, the USS Niagara Falls miraculously spotted the becalmed sailboat off course and in distress, with the three aboard within hours of death.  Rescued and taken to Honolulu, Julian and Laurie would return to California, settling in Summerland, south of Santa Barbara.

They would live together for the next fifteen years, Julian reinventing his art to portray the horrors and visions of his ordeal at sea, along with revitalizing his emphatic paintings of sensual showgirls, nudes, and women of all walks of life. In 1972 he would create history's most iconic Showgirl painting, the portrait of Janet Boyd, which made its debut on the stage at the Silver Slipper. In mid 1984 he would paint his most masterful Showgirl painting, a commission called `The Las Vegas Fantasy,' four showgirls and a clown, painted on gold leaf.  Both paintings almost eight feet tall.

Las Vegas Fantasy
by Julian Ritter

Portrait of Janet
Janet Boyd by Julian Ritter

Laurie and Julians life was ideal, until Laurie betrayed Julian's love and trust. As a child growing up during WWI in Germany, with a mother who worked as a sometimes actress, sometime prostitute, Julian learned early in life not to trust others. His biggest issue throughout his lifetime was trusting people. Hilde had left him alone, and with this final betrayal by Laurie, Julian (~75) up and sold everything and moved to Hawaii  to live with his son.

Julian Ritter
circa 1948

Nine months after moving to Hawaii and building a majestic new studio to paint in, Julian would suffer a massive stroke (circa1985), and never paint again. His Son Michael would take care of his father until Julian passed away over ten years later, March 4, 2000.  Laurie would die mysteriously, April 29, 2006.  She had dedicated her life after the rescue, to creating purpose for Julian's Art and to keep him painting and away from the bottle. In the aftermath of their breakup, Laurie could find no purpose of her own, nor could she stay away from the bottle herself.

The Life and Art of Julian Ritter, delves into the intracacies of what makes a life of art. Why and how did a life so full of adventure and story, pale in comparison to his dedication to making his art. He painted, hours upon hours, every day of his life from the time he was 8 years old, until the time of his stroke. His Mastery is unparalleled, yet he remains an enigma in the world of art.

As we approach the Fifty year anniversary of the `Rescue at Sea,' I endeavor to fulfill an oath I made, to tell the story of Julian Ritter's art, and his life.  Join me on this magical journey, to find out how and why, Julian created his art, and stayed true to his Purpose of creating art, for the sake of the art.

I also invite you to take a look at my GoFundMe Campaign.   And for more information and photos, go to the Julian Ritter Website.

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