Harold Hancock: Fifty Years of Art. About the artist : When young William H. Hancock won first place for his entry in the Carnegie Library's National Book Week poster contest, it gave him the kind of encouragement and clarity for his life's vocation for which many of us still long. He was nine, and he already knew what he was going to be when he grew up.
Like fellow members of "The Greatest Generation" Hancock didn't let youth stand in the way of his ambitions. During his last two years of high school, he woke up early seven days a week, taking off on his bicycle, the wire basket loaded with opaque poster colors and brushes, to paint the day's plate lunches on the windows of three local restaurants. He made 35 cents a window. To help his mom and dad pay their rent, Hancock would paint children's portraits for the town's wealthy parents. Immediately after high school, Hancock established his first art studio in Harrisburg, Illinois.Wanting to serve his country during World War II, Hancock joined the army, where he was assigned as an artist. He participated in numerous campaigns to promote the war effort, including the Manhattan Project at Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Hancock left the service in 1946. Deciding not to return to Illinois, he established his next studio in Greensburg, Indiana.
Always busy, Hancock did a weekly show for WLW television in Cincinnati. Dressed as a tramp clown, he would create funny art in front of an audience of children. Commissions began coming in from hotels, civic organizations, and individuals to paint murals. Then they started coming from General Motors, Gulf Oil, and Delco Remy for paintings and prints to hang in their executives' offices.These same executives started to ask Hancock to give demonstrations for their employees. He was in high-demand, traveling an average of 50,000 miles a year. Before large audiences, he would paint a picture while interacting with the crowd through jokes and banter. From the 1950s forward, Hancock had studios in Greensburg, Indiana; Brown County, Indiana; and Ft. Myers Beach, Florida; but he loved Brown County the most. When he was asked by the state of Indiana to paint a mural in the lodge of Indiana's most popular state park, it was a special honor for him. His Four Seasons mural at the Abe Martin Lodge in the Brown County State Park is still viewed by thousands of people every year. A few years later, newly elected congressman Lee Hamilton asked Hancock to select six paintings of Indiana for his Washington, D.
With Hancock's love of art, clowns, and humor it was only natural that he and Red Skelton should become friends. They met when they both had paintings hanging in a Nevada gallery.
When together they would crack each other up with their witty repartee. At Red's 63rd birthday party, Hancock was introduced to Emmett Kelly.In Kelly's dressing room, Hancock made numerous sketches of the famous Ringling Brothers clown. From these sketches came many well-known prints of Kelly.
For years, Hancock spent his summers traveling to paint on location. He worked all over the United States, the Caribbean, Europe, and the British Isles. He even traveled down river by canoe, painting in the jungles of South America.
Hancock bought a home in Newcastle, England and used it as base for painting excursions all over Europe. He and his wife would drive their motor home from country to country, and he would paint from sun up to sun set.
On one of his European journeys, Hancock was commissioned to create 40 paintings in 13 countries. Everywhere he is remembered for his clever jokes and ever-present cigar. Harold Hancock: Fifty Years of Art, Hancock wrote, I love Brown County. This will be my final resting place.
He passed away there on July 13, 2006. Hancock said once in an interview, If you love life and live right, every day is an opportunity. " His experience growing up in poverty and his God-given ability, hard work, and positive attitude enabled him to say toward the end that, "my life was like a dream. I got everything I ever wanted. Hancock studied at the John Herron Art Institute, was a lifetime member of the Brown County Art Gallery, exhibited at the Hoosier Salon, and was a founding member of Indiana Heritage Arts.He owned residence-studios in Brown County, Indiana; Lake Tahoe, Nevada; Ft. Myers Beach, Florida; and Newcastle, England. His works are in private, public, and corporate collections all over the world. Antiquemonger is curated by C.
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