Collection: Roy Purcell

Roy Purcell has lived and worked as an artist in Las Vegas since 1970 and has created a large body of work in various media. While known throughout the southwest for his etchings, he has mastered watercolor, oil, pastel, ink, acrylic and pencil to express the world around him. Born in 1936, Roy grew up in rural Utah, where he learned an appreciation of the earth and developed a sensitivity for its beauty. He appears to have sprung directly from the desert itself; tall and wiry with traces of his fiery red hair weaving through the gray, he personifies the life that thrives in the desert: patient, intent, vigorous. Like the desert after a thunderstorm, he is prolific; his work, like wildflowers, is dazzling at a distance and compelling in its detail. Roy Purcell first gained national attention as an artist is 1966 when he painted “The Journey”, 2000 square feet of murals on the granite cliff faces in the Cerbat Mountains near Chloride, Arizona. He had recently been working toward his Masters in Creative Writing and Fine Arts at Utah State University, and was working as a miner. The extraordinary taxing project provided Roy with the symbolic foundation for his future work, “I could no longer hide from myself. I had begun a journey of self discovery from which I could never turn back.” Roy became the Director of the Mojave Museum of History and Arts in Kingman, Arizona where he began doing the etchings that would become his trademark. The bright gold of a sunrise or the rich purple of a sunset became recognizable elements of his inked intaglio prints: western themes, desert scenes, but also the symbols and imagery of Native American and world mythology. Roy came to Las Vegas as Director for the Southern Nevada Museum in Henderson and four years later began working solely as a free lance artist. His work and published poetry and sketches, such as “The Wayfarer” took him around the southwest and eventually around the world. he has exhibited his work across America and his etchings are in numerous private collections in Japan, Europe, Australia and in corporate art collection such as Standard Oil, Dow Chemical, and in the homes of celebrities and prominent locals. In the early eighties, he began a series of monumental projects that would include the world’s largest engraving. “The Christ Light” murals for the First Presbyterian Church in Las Vegas borrowed the talents of hundreds of local residents to re-enact the life of Jesus Christ.