Tony Angell was born in Los Angeles in 1940, when the city had yet to expand and the hills and valleys surrounding the region were relatively wild and open. Growing up in the San Fernando Valley he was given the freedom to roam the edges of the still free flowing Los Angeles River to hunt and fish. Within a few years he was bicycling to the local beaches to surf and skin dive. This early exposure to nature engendered in Angell an ever growing awe and respect for the native animals that he would encounter. Collecting, and then drawing and painting the wildlife was a natural response to what he encountered in his explorations.
By the mid 1950s, Southern California had changed dramatically from open pastoral areas to crowded communities with burgeoning light industries and all linked by a network of sprawling freeways. The wilds Angell knew were disappearing almost overnight. At 17, Angell received an athletic scholarship to the University of Washington that became his ticket to a region that still had ready links to healthy and diverse forest and marine environments. While attending the University he completed his undergraduate and graduate work in the field of Speech Communications, all the while taking every opportunity to roam the wilds not far from the city of Seattle and compiling a stock of drawings based on his experience there.
Angell taught high school and junior college communication courses and then assumed the position of State Supervisor of Environmental Education in the office of the State Superintendent of Schools. This work allowed him to continue to cultivate his understanding and appreciation of the region's natural diversity as he traveled extensively working with the state's educators.
From his childhood, Angell had kept and worked with animals including hawks and falcons that he had trained. As an adult he continues to rehabilitate wild species, particularly birds of prey and crows and ravens. This intimate contact has provided the foundation of understanding for his artwork that is realized in his drawings, paintings, stone carvings and bronze sculptures.
Angell and his wife, Lee Rolfe, have four daughters, Gilia, Bryony, Gavia and Larka. The family has lived north of Seattle in Lake Forest Park for nearly half a century. Their home itself has served a source of inspiration and outdoor studio for much of Angell's work as it is built along a salmon producing creek and adjacent to a forest still hosting nesting owls and hawks. Here too are long tailed weasels, mink and coyote. His working studio on Lopez Island in the Salish Sea is also a source of inspiration where forest hawks nest on his property and peregrine falcons and bald eagles raise families above the nearby bays and inlets.
His first showing of his artworks were at Cornell University's Laboratory of Ornithology in Ithaca N.Y. and the James Ford Bell Museum in Minneapolis Minn. in the late 1960s. In 1972, he held his first solo show at the Richard White Gallery, sharing the space with the established northwest artists, Morris Graves, George Tsutakawa, Kenneth Callahan and Guy Anderson to name a few. Maintaining this relationship, with what has now become the Foster/White Gallery, he has had regular showings of his drawings and sculpture for the past 44 years. Consult the book, Iridescent Light: The Emergence of Northwest Art by Deloris Tarzan Ament for a full account of these northwest masters and Angell's association with them.
Among his many public commissions Angell includes the Seattle Woodland Park Zoo, The Seattle Aquarium, The City of Redmond, WA, the Mount Baker Ski Area (pictured to the left), Sleeping Lady in Leavenworth, WA and the public libraries of Bainbridge and Lopez Island. His work is part of the Harborview Medical Center and the public collection of the Seattle Business Center. His sculptural work is included in the collections of the Museum of Northwest Art, the Seattle Art Museum, The Frye Art Museum and the Tacoma Art Museum. Cornell University has his paintings in their collections as does the Victoria and Albert Museum in London England.
HONORS & AWARDS
Some of his awards include the Master Artist Medal from the Woodson Art Gallery of Wausau Wisconsin, and the 2016 Northwest Luminary for sculpture recognition from the Museum of Northwest Art. Angell received the first prize award for illustration from the Victoria and Albert Museum in 2006. His sculpture "Stretching Kestrel" received the Chilmark Award from the National Sculpture Society an organization of which he is an elected Fellow.
Angell has been recognized for his public service and to this end he has devoted time and energy to The Nature Conservancy and other organizations seeking to restore and sustain a quality environment. Angell served as Board Chair of the Washington Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, receiving this national organization's highest award of the Golden Oak Leaf for his work in establishing the Skagit River Bald Eagle Natural Area. Likewise he was recognized as a Champion of Puget Sound by the Puget Sound Keeper's Alliance in 2014. His outreach with both his writing and artwork resulted in his election into the Hall of Fame of the Department of Communications at the University of Washington. Angell also received the Finestone Award from New York University, recognizing his conservation efforts. in June of 2018, he had the honor of delivering the 2018 commencement address to the University of Washington School of Communications graduating class. The title of the speech is best summarized as "Who Will We Become?"
Writing and illustrating more than a dozen books related to nature, he has received the Washington State Writers Award for four of his works including Birds of Prey of the Pacific Northwest Slope, Ravens, Crows, Magpies and Jays (University of Washington Press) and In the Company of Crows and Ravens (Yale University Press). His most recent book, The House of Owls (Yale University Press) received the 2015 National Outdoor Book Award for nature and the environment writing. His book Puget Sound Through an Artist's Eye (University of Washington Press) is a collection of his artistic works in stone, bronze and line along with a narrative that describes his artistic response to the region he lives in.
Over the past half century the artist and his work has been featured in a number of newspaper and magazines articles. Among the most recent in magazines have been: "Tony Angell : Through Wild Rock", Western Art and Architecture, May 2015 and "Tony Angell: Liberating the Spirit", Art of the West, May/June 2016. A recent film, "Tony Angell Artist" was released in 2010, produced by Fidget.TV and underwritten by the Seattle Arts Commission (above).
For a more complete summary of Angell's shows, commission's, articles and awards please refer to the web site of the Foster/White Gallery in Seattle Washington or the Gerald Peter's Gallery in Santa Fe, NM. A full description of the artist's life and work can also be found on Wikipedia.
Along with the inherent beauty of his subjects, the artist has sought to continuously evolve his creative statements to reflect the dignity, strength and intelligence of his subjects. For Angell the path he is following has no final destination; rather it allows him to respond to the engaging spirits and designs of the life around him. It is the process/trip itself that brings purpose to his life. Herein are the astounding discoveries and the possibilities still out of reach that still welcome his response.