Last month, AzGetawayTravel ventured to Skull Valley, Arizona to tour the Skull Valley Historical Society’s historic depot/museum, enjoy lunch at the Skull Valley Diner, visit the Skull Valley Polo Club and browse around the Skull Valley General Store. When we first arrived into the small but scenic community 18 miles southwest of Prescott, we had no idea we also would have the opportunity to visit the private studio of one of Arizona’s most famous artists: western painter and sculptor George Phippen,
Probably most Arizona residents and many Arizona visitors already are familiar with George Phippen (1915-1966). He’s famous for co-founding the Cowboy Artists of America with fellow western artists Charlie Dye, John Hampton, and Joe Beeler. Phippen became the organization’s first president. More significantly he’s well-known for his art — often whimsical cowboy drawings, scenic western paintings and finely detailed bronze sculptures. His representational artwork depicts the cowboy way of life, describes a historic event as in “The Walker Party” or tells (often with much humor) the colorful tales about round ups, ranching and wrangling in the American West.
Although Phippen didn’t move into Skull Valley until 1949; after he arrived he spent a lot of time at his home/studio, sculpting in bronze and painting in oil and watercolors. But it’s here in Skull Valley he and his wife Louise resided with their family. His Loren still maintains a home in Skull Valley, splitting his time between here and a home in Scottsdale. So, when Skull Valley Depot guide Ida Downing presented to us the possibility of viewing the private collections of George Phippen and his family, plus meeting Loren Phippen; we knew a chance like this may not come along again.
In addition to artwork, the George Phippen Memorial Studio is filled with saddles, books, photographs albums, trophy hunting mounts and equipment, hand-painted Christmas decorations, historical artifacts and many other personal items that once belonged to George Phippen. Because Loren Phippen only on rare occasions makes the studio available to visitors, we felt very fortunate that he opened it up for us. We had a enjoyable visit; we even had the chance to hear a few of the Phippen family anecdotes from Loren — memories of his father as the famous western artist, family man, and one of Arizona’s most famous figures.
For more information about George Phippen, please visit these sites:
Bio: One of Nancy Garrett’s favorite journalism jobs was as writer-editor-photographer for an Arizona travel magazine. She hopes to develop that same sense of passion with her blog, AZGetawayTravel, where she writes about her travel experiences, travel tips, recommended destinations, lodging and restaurants. She also shares travel deals. Destinations and evaluations are based solely on personal preferences. No free lodging, food or other gifts are accepted in association with her entries.
Garrett, an Ohio native, moved to Arizona in 1978 and has lived in Mesa, Chandler, Gilbert and Show Low. She attended graduate school at Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. She and her husband have traveled throughout the United States and to Costa Rica, Mexico, Canada and the Bahamas.