Duval Eliot, nee’
Ruby Duval Bearden, was born in Arkansas, and at a young age moved with
her family to California. After going to Hollywood High School for a while, she
attended The Los Angeles Trade Technical College (then known as
Frank Wiggins Trade School), studying Commercial
Art and Design. While
there, she began her art career as a men’s
fashion illustrator. Then, because of her immense interest in art,
on graduating June 19, 1930,
immediately enrolled in Art
Center School in Los
Angeles, being one of their istudents.
She studied landscape painting (watercolor and oil), portrait,
life dr and illustration
with Barse Miller and with Joseph Henniger, life drawing and quic.
At Art Center she continued studying all facets of commercial art and
simultaneously worked at the Columbia
Advertising Agency designing newspaper layouts and fashion
illustrations for the major Los Angeles department stores such as I.
Magnin, The Broadway, I. Miller, Wetherby Kayser,
and Sak’s in Beverly Hills, etc.
During this period, Duval
met and fell in love with a fellow artist, Don Eliot, who was teaching sculpture at Stickney
Art School in Pasadena part time while attending Art
Center School on a scholarship. On March
31, 1934 they eloped to Kingman, Arizona to be married,
and then to the Grand Canyon for a camping honeymoon, thus embarking upon a
life-long artistic collaboration.
In 1935, Don Eliot became a package designer for Pacific Fine
Arts Co. where he designed the entire “King’s Men” cosmetic line
(the gold bottles with the knight’s heads).
During the war he worked for North American Aircraft as a tool
designer and illustrated repair manuals for both B25 and Mustang
airplanes. He also worked
for Lockheed, developing a sales brochure for the Saturn, a post war
plane. Afterwards, he
designed Max Factor Cosmetics’ entire line in the “Golden
Years” of Hollywood, and later, most of the packaging and bottles for Merle
Norman Cosmetics for 20 years.
In 1937, Duval Eliot was
asked to teach fashion
illustration and layout
at Art Center School in Los Angeles, her class being a required
part of the curriculum to teach students to understand how to draw figures
with fashionable attire. She
resigned in 1941 to raise a family and was invited to resume her teaching there
at any time.
Duval and Don designed and
built a contemporary red-wood
house/studio just below the Eagle
Rock on N. Figueroa St. above the ravine and streambed below, the
land descending in garden levels down to their badminton court alongside
the horse-trail and stream, which attracted quite a bit of attention.
Their only daughter, Tamara Noel, was
born Dec. 25, 1941.
Throughout the 1940’s,
Duval continued to amass a
large body of watercolor
landscapes of Southern California and the West, while
illustrating for J.J. Hagarty.
Commercially, her prime focus was free-lance
illustration, which could be created with a young child in tow,
finding interesting work at the “ Western Family Magazine,”
for whom she did illustrations for over ten years. She also illustrated
children’s storybooks and textbooks for MacMillian and L.W.
Stinger publishing houses, meanwhile creating Fashion
Advertisements and billboards
in full color for Phelps & Terkel for several years
and billboards for Silverwoods Department Store.
For this work, Duval received the Western
Art Directors Award in 1946.
During the post World War
II years, Duval honed her
fine art techniques. She studied with such notable
artists as: Barse
Miller, Hardy Gramatky and Ejnar Hansen (watercolor)
and also with Hansen, (landscape & portrait painting in oil).
In 1948, in The
Fourth Annual Los Angeles Exhibition at The Greek Theater in
Griffith Park, she won 1st Prize for her watercolor entitled “End
of the Trail” among her peers of 326
entrants for painting, including Francis De Erdely, Lorser Feitelson,
Conrad Buff, James Couper Wright, Frode N. Dann, Joshua Meador, Dan
Lutz, and Chas. Payzant. She also studied
painting with Conrad Buff, J.C.Wright,
Design and Abstract Painting with Leonard Edmonson,
and later, painting in acrylic
with 2 years of intensive color
with Guy MacCoy and silk-screen
Serigraphy with Mario De Perentes.
Duval also became close friends with Milford Zornes.
She appears with him in an early black and white photograph
with in the Bio/Documentary Video screened recently at his
exhibition “A California Watercolorist at 95” held at
The Pasadena Museum of California Art (March 2003).
Throughout her life, Duval
continuously painted and
sketched on the numerous
trips she, her husband and daughter, Tamara, enjoyed all over California (the Coastal areas, the Ghost Towns, and several
“pack-trips” with horses and mules for 10 days to two weeks up in
the High Sier in 1939,
1948, 1957 and 1967), the Southwest
“Four Corner’s Country”(camping on the Hopi and Navajo
Reservations, crossing the Continental Divide in the San Juan Mountains
of Colorado starting their “pack-trip” from Pagosa Springs, the
ranch of Lola and Fred Harmon, the creator of
“Red Ryder Comics” and friends from art school), the
Pacific Northwest, as
well as Mexico in
In 1960 Duval and Don traveled throughout Mexico
after joining their daughter who had been studying at the University of
Mexico. In Mexico City
they visited David Alvaro Siqueiros, whom Duval had
met back in1932 during her Art School days. While in the living room with him and his wife, David
suddenly had to “disappear” for a while, escaping out the balcony
window as the police were knocking on the door!
In 1963, on an archeological expedition into the “Barancas del
Cobre” they visited the Tarahumara Indians with members of the A.S.A
(Archeological Survey Association).
They also went on numerous Petroglyph trips with the A.S.A.
(1960’s & 1970’s), Hawaii
(1963) and Europe in
1965, joining their daughter, Tamara, who had been living and performing
in London and in Spain.
When the freeway took their property in 1954, The
Eliots in 1955 built
their larger studio
“dreamhouse” in Whiting Woods, La Crescenta, which was
featured in Sunset Magazine. Here,
Duval finally had the “space”
to produce an enormous body
of silk-screen serigraphs.
Also during this period, she became interested in the ancient
art of enamel on copper,
studying with Jean Buckley.
Then, after experimenting with the powdered glass, firing at
extremely high temperatures, she began utilizing her extensive
art background and transformed what previously was considered “craft” into a
3-dimensional art form, forging the copper into bas-reliefs and sculpture.
Her numerous and sometimes enormous
pieces were used by many well-known architects and designers of the
time, such as Welton Beckett and Adele Faulkner.
Her enamel and hand-forged work ranged from small decorative
pieces to large architectural panels for which she was commissioned by
The Lytton Savings and Loan building on Sunset Blvd. (over 140 different
designs) among others.
active in “The Southern
California Designer Craftsmen” (S.C.D.C.) (as
recording secretary, publicity chairman, and on the jury of admission
for two years). She won many awards and exhibited
extensively throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s
at Barnsdall Municipal Art Gallery,
Pasadena Art Museum (paintings and enamels}, Gallery
333 on La Cienega, as well as colleges, demonstrating watercolor
techniques, enamel techniques and even silversmithing (lost
Duval was also an active member and on the boards of “The
Pasadena Society of Artists”, ”The
Los Angeles Art Association”, “Women
Painters of the West”, as well as S.C.D.C.,
participating in numerous group
( Design 6,7,8,and 9 at the Pasadena Art Museum) and one
man shows in the
vicinities of Pasadena, Glendale, Santa Barbara
and Claremont. She
was represented in Paris by
two silk screen serigraphs at The Exposicion Internacionale des
Federacion Femenine at The
Museum des Arts Decoratifs in 1971.
In the mid 1960’s
Duval renewed her art teaching career with the city of Glendale in its public art program at their Freemont Craft Center, teaching enamel on
copper, life drawing, watercolor, and silversmithing (Native American,
traditional and modern). In
1966 She and her husband Don, were a bit
“disappointed” when their daughter, Tamara, ran off to Saudi
Arabia with Farouk and got married in a Moslem Ceremony, abandoning her
dance career and education. But on their return they married again in
the Eliot’s Whiting Woods garden and she resumed her education
at UCLA (later disappearing again back to Saudi Arabia, escaping after 2
years “behind the veil” and traveling in Egypt, India, Asia etc.
causing her parents a lot of “concern and worry”
until she returned safely in 1971.
Throughout the 1970’s
and 1980’s Duval taught life drawing and advanced
technique in watercolor at The
Brand Library and Art Center, resigning in 1987 at
the age of 78, after teaching
for 23 years (1964 to
1987). Duval was also a prominently recognized juror for numerous art
exhibitions throughout Southern California.
Duval, after her beloved husband
Don, and partner in
life passed away in 1979, was invited to Kenya
in 1981 by her daughter, who had been performing throughout
Africa at the time. On her
return, Duval produced another
burst of work in brilliant color from her
impressions of Kenya throughout 1982 to 1985.
In 1988, her last exhibition “Duval
Eliot in Retrospect” was held at her beautiful home/studio
in Whiting Woods, Glendale and soon after, she moved to a smaller home
in Tujunga, Ca.
In 1990, a few months after
her death on
August 30th, her home
and storage area were vandalized
by drug addicts and Duval’s
remaining life work,
as well as her husband’s, Don
Eliot, were stolen!!
Through the intense efforts of her daughter, most
of the art was recovered
rather dangerously, (with no help from L.A.P.D.)
It was then photographed and curated throughout 1991 and 1992.
Some of the art
was placed in The George Stern Fine Art Gallery in
Beverly Hills, and some in Tirage Art Gallery in Glendale (now in
Pasadena) since 1993.
Duval Eliot was represented in The
Los Angeles County Art Museum’s
show “MADE IN CALIF” in 2001
with “Chavez Ravine”
(lent by L.A. County) and “3rd
St. Traffic” (lent by
The George Stern Gallery).
In 2002, her daughter, Tamara Eliot was finally able to return
from Spain where she has been living for the last 18 years, collect
all the remaining art and present an exhibition of over 370 pieces -
LOST CLASSICS” of DUVAL
ELIOT (1909 – 1990)
which included watercolor
landscapes and portraits from
the 1930’s and 1940’s,
work (nudes in charcoal, pencil, pen & ink with gouache
and paintings), abstracts, illustrations,
and silk screen prints
throughout Duval’s prolific 57 year
exhibit was held at the former “Pasadena
School of Fine Art” on Mentor Avenue
- from Dec. 6th
through Feb. 15th,
2003. This was
the site previously owned by Jae Carmichael, where during the 1940’s
and 1950’s, a group of 10 to 25 mostly well-known working
artists, including Duval, would meet on Thursdays “dropping a dollar in the
hat” for the model fee.