Don Crowley pursued a twenty-one year career as a commercial artist in New York before moving permanently to Tucson, Arizona in 1974. He was born in Redlands, California and, after graduation from high school, served two years in the Merchant Marines and two years in the US Navy. Following his military service, Crowley attended the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles, California, where he met his wife, Betty Jane, a fellow artist. In 1953, they were married and moved to New York City to begin their careers in commercial art. Crowley worked at the legendary Cooper Studios for seven years, and then pursued freelance illustration until 1973.
He went to Tucson in 1973 with the idea of painting exclusively for galleries and moved there permanently the next year. His models were often members of the San Carlos Indian Reservation in eastern Arizona and eventually, almost exclusively, a family of Paiutes, the Martineaus, from the Kaibab Plateau region of northern Arizona. (He recently incorporated the third generation of Martineau models in his paintings.) Crowley often poses his models on his property, a mountainous area northwest of Tucson. He also travels across the west, making sketches and taking photographs, from which many of his paintings are based upon.
He is a member of the the “Tucson 7,” an informal group of artists who all began their careers in commercial art and illustration and have made the successful transition to Western fine art. In 1994, he was elected a member of the Cowboy Artists of America, a group devoted to keeping realistic Western art alive in the tradition of Remington and Russell. This prestigious group holds its annual exhibition and sale each October at the Phoenix Art Museum. Crowley is represented by some of the most prestigious western art galleries in the country including Settlers West (Tucson, AZ), Trailside (Scottsdale, AZ; Jackson Hole, WY) and Alterniann (Santa Fe, NM).
“This is a calling,” Crowley says. “It’s very fortunate to know what you want out of life. It’s the searching and doing of it that’s important. The gift is having the goal.”
Now Available: "Desert Dreams - The Western Art of Don Crowley"