1969, upon seeing these new works that Tony was producing, poet
and longtime friend Rosé Cohen invited him to do a show at
his loft in New York City, which he called The Liquid Wedge Gallery.
The exhibition consisted of furniture, musical instruments and other
objects the likes of which had never been seen before. “I
remember opening night, champagne in test tubes from Los Alamos
and we just blew everybody’s mind…People walked into
the room and it was like being on a spaceship, it was like being
in another world” Cohen said. Along with strong sales,
his resume lists write-ups on Price in the New York Magazine, The
Village Voice and The East Village Other and of his work in Look
Magazine, and Home Furnishing Daily lists Price’s inclusion
in Sound Environment, an exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary
Crafts in New York.
During the next few years Tony felt
the need to dedicate his talent to something larger than himself
and concentrated more and more on his Atomic Art including many
monumental outdoor pieces. Writer R. Lee O’Neill spoke of
Price’s focus: ‘Indeed, Tony Price, is almost singular
in his ability and need to translate the human significance of the
Atomic Bomb Age
terms that can reach a visceral understanding for most of his fellow
men. Through initial attempts to turn Atomic bomb waste material
into household items and furniture (an effort to domesticate the
tiger) to the abstractions that evolved, this lovely man, this tortured
artist, this agonized human being has created a body of work that
is the ultimate talisman, the Rosetta Stone of a modern conundrum’.
Through the early 1970’s Price
showed his work at various galleries in the area including Hill’s
Gallery, one of the few venues for contemporary art in Santa Fe
at that time. In 1975 Price met the illustrious art dealer, R.C.
Israel, who began representing him at his Gallery of New Mexico
in Santa Fe. In 1976 it was Israel who convinced Price to show his
work in an exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts along with works of
several other regional sculptors. It was also during this period,
after discovery of radiation on one of his pieces, that Price obtained
his own collection of Geiger counters and began checking all his
materials for radiation.
1978 Price met a young artist named Donna Lubell. The two lived
together for the next 12 years and have two children, a daughter
Zara, born in 1979 and son, Jed, born in 1986. To support his family
during this time Price sold his stone carvings and his Atomic Art
was collected by many of the couple’s friends, family and
others. He was also a regular at the Santa Fe Flea Market and would
spend virtually all of his money buying the materials from the salvage
yard in Los Alamos so he could continue creating his Atomic Art
at the couple’s home and studio in Santa Fe. This work was
much more interesting and important to him than the stone carvings
and bronzes of Southwestern imagery he created for the market.
During the early 1980’s his
outdoor works were shown at Shidoni Gallery in Tesuque
and in 1982, the avant-garde RoseMont Gallery in Santa
Fe, operated by his longtime friends Monte Ranes and Rosé
Cohen, presented one of the artist’s most significant public
shows to date, in a space previously occupied by the prestigious
Heydt/Bair Gallery in Santa Fe. That same year, award-winning
Glen Silber and Claudia Vianello, completed their documentary on
Price entitled Atomic
Artist and a preview showing was held during the exhibition.
The film was aired nationally on PBS in 1986.
Price - Life & Times
by James Rutherford