I lived in Columbus Ohio from 1989- 2007. During that time, I lived and worked in all sort of neighborhoods. On the East side of town, there were these amazing murals, that looked like they were painted in the 1970's-80's. I'd notice them all the time. Signed by Walt Neil.
Walt was considered an urban "outsider" artist. I believe there was a show at the public library at some point.
So imagine my surprise when I walked into an old school house (turned into a cultural center) and saw the walls covered in Walt Neil murals! I found out he worked there on weekends. I was renting a studio space there, and made sure to be there on the first Saturday I was open.
I found him around a corner, walked up and said (yelled), "oh my gosh, you're Walt Neil and I love your work!!!" I explained about living in Columbus and seeing his work. We hugged and agreed to work on a project to photograph and catalog his work. Hopefully soon!
In the meantime, here's his online bio:
Walt Neil is an ‘Artist of the Spirit’ whose formal training ended with a high school diploma, majoring in commercial art. Mentors like Tom Pannell, Ed Colston and Bill Agnew introduced him to the most challenging profession on earth…..’being an African American artist in America!
Despite discouraging advice from teachers, guidance counselors and family members, Walt Neil continued to travel from state to state seeking out kindred spirits which led to teaching positions in St. Thomas, the Virgin Islands and Atlanta. Walt Neil continues to travel across the country sharing is knowledge, experience and art with the world.
Two trips to Africa only showed Walt Neil what an unlimited future that was in store for mankind and in the cultural wealth Africa had to offer. Walt Neil currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio but continues to travel the world. Walt teaches art to youth groups in the Cleveland, Ohio area. He enjoys teaching hungry young minds eager to learn about art.
Walt Neil is noted for his vibrant portraits, ethnic, surreal artwork, and colorful murals that have an international appeal. Walt Neil invites you to share this visual smorgasbord with family, friends and colleagues. If you are a patron of the arts, you understand that art is to be savored daily. If you have a strong appetite for splendor, largess and history then you will want to own a one-of-a-kind piece of art by Walt Neal.
“I don’t give a damn what others say. It’s okay to color outside of the lines.” Jimi Hendrix