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Tony Price - Life & Times
essay by James Rutherford
Atomic Art

     Although the Biosphere 2 display represented one of Price’s biggest triumphs, at the same time he was dealing with the break-up of his relationship with the mother of their children, who had moved with them to a remote town in western New Mexico. In order to be close to his son and daughter, Price used funds he received from the Biosphere 2 project to purchase a small piece of land and construct a studio and display room near them. He spent over two
years meticulously reassembling his collection of Atomic Art and working on a new group of masks. Separated from most of his friends and unable to find any real allies in this small ranching community, he would spend hours making music on his guitar and piano tuning boards and creating sculpture. He also began experimenting with a PhotoShop program on a small Macintosh computer producing elaborate digital drawings utilizing skills he had taught himself. Sadly, these pieces are some of the last artworks he created.

     In the fall of 1998, Price suffered a major stroke. After being hospitalized for several months he was moved into a small apartment in Santa Fe provided to him by longtime friend, Norma Cross (daughter of renowned artist, Doris Cross). Friends of Price rallied to his aid and a major auction was held in Santa Fe to raise money for his care. Despite the attention of his doctors, nurses, and friends, the severe nature of the stroke prevented him from any substantial recovery. He died peacefully, although much too soon, on the morning of a beautiful Spring snowfall on March 3, 2000. A memorial for him held near Santa Fe drew hundreds of his friends and admirers who gathered to pay their respects to this unique man. Many share the sentiments expressed there by David Lubell, who said: “Tony was truly one of the most extraordinarily gifted and creative human beings I would ever have the pleasure of knowing”.
     As per Tony’s wishes, his remaining collection of 144 pieces of Atomic Art are being kept together, and plans are being developed to create a permanent home for this important body of work that remains as relevant today as when it was created.
(click here to see the drawings for the proposed facility)

James Rutherford, 2002
Nashville, TN


Tony Price - Life & Times
essay by James Rutherford
Atomic Art