Ben Abril

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About this artist

Benjamin Abril’s reputation is based on his picturesque scenes of old Los Angeles and the California countryside. After serving in the air force during World War II, Abril studied briefly at the Glendale School of Allied Arts with Arthur Beaumont (1890-1973). He then worked on the night shift at the post office in order to paint during the day. During these years he painted the circus and became interested in the Chinatown area of Los Angeles. He returned to school in the late 1940s to study art at Glendale College and landscape painting at the Art Center School of Design with Trude Hanscom (born 1898). He studied architectural rendering at Chouinard Art Institute and took watercolor classes at the Los Angeles County Art Institute (Otis Art Institute). Abril also studied privately with landscape painter ORRIN A. WHITE and painted with members of the California Water Color Society. The County of Los Angeles hired him in 1955 as a cartographer and architectural draftsman, a position he held for some twenty years. He also worked for architectural firms and briefly as a scenic designer for Desi-Lu Productions.

In 1962 Cowie Galleries began to represent Abril, and from then on his reputation grew; two years later actor Vincent Price bought out his entire studio. Around this time he began to depict the Victorian mansions in the Bunker Hill area of downtown Los Angeles. The fame of these paintings led to a commission from the United States Navy to paint a series on Japan and later one of the Mekong Delta in Vietnam for their collection. In 1972 President Nixon acquired one of his Northern California seascapes.

Who’s Who in American Art, 1980, 1986, s.v. "Abril, Ben (Benjamin)" § Janice Lovoos, "Ben Abril: The Ambience of the City," Southwest Art 11 (September 1981): 90-95 § Ann Bini, "Ben Abril: Capturing [the] Old West with Heart, Soul, and Brush," Verdugo Newspaper Group, December 11, 1983, pt. A, p. 7 § LACMA, American Art department files, Ben Abril, "My Life as an Artist: Ben Abril-Autobiography," 1985, typescript § Ben Abril, Images of a Golden Era: Paintings of Historical California (Glendale, Calif.: Arthur H. Clark, 1987), with introduction by Leon C. Arnold and biography by Jean Napier Neely, published in conjunction with an exhibition held at the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History and San Bernardino County Museum, 1987.