Ralph N. Hurst
September 4, 1918 - December 7, 2003

Since his first major competitive exhibition "American Sculpture 1951" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and "Art USA: '58" at Madison Square Garden in New York, Ralph Hurst continued, in the words of Patricia Boyd Wilson of The Christian Science Monitor in April 1973, to stand preeminent among sculptors in the United States." Painter, ceramist, designer, architect, and most notably, sculptor, Hurst traversed the art range. From portraiture to photography, from Museum curator of the Ogunquit, Maine Museum of Art, to art educator, from architectural bas-reliefs at Florida State University to interior and portrait bas-reliefs, and his plethora of three-dimensional carvings of figures, birds, animals, and fish, he has archival documentation of thousands of works. Exhibiting from Main to California, one-man exhibitions and galleries from coast to coast, Hurst enjoyed thousands of collectors, both corporate and private, all over the United States, Canada, and Europe who enjoy the beauty and tactile pleasure of his art.

Born in Decatur, Indiana, Hurst earned his undergraduate and graduate work in art from Indiana University. In 1953, he migrated to Miami, Florida, where he was discovered and lured to Florida State University to become a member of the art faculty of 27 years. Professor Emeritus Hurst remembers fondly his teaching experience in ceramics, constructive design, woodworking, synthetics, supervising art education majors and teaching elementary art education teachers on campus as well as several years of in- service art classes to teachers in kindergarten and elementary classes in Dade, Palm Beach, and Escambia counties. Highlighting his Florida State University career was receiving three faculty grants, one of which provided the opportunity to have a studio in Florence, Italy carving in alabaster and marble. February 15-March 24, 2002 Florida State University honored Hurst with a retrospective of his fifty plus years as an artist by staging in the Museum of Fine Arts examples of his works in wood, marble, alabaster, bronze, steatite, ceramics, paint, and synthetics, celebrating the many artistic and life time achievements of his much loved, honored, and award winning works. Because his work simplifies, abstracts, many of his pieces negate detail by tucking close (as to be one) the arms, feet, or other anatomical parts. Hurst's strength as a sculptor is strong repetition of rhythmic carving graceful lines reminiscent of the classics. Called a poet in stone, Hurst devoted his creative life to art that gained him recognition from Maine to California. Though best known for his elegant and sensuous alabaster carvings of figures and love birds, Hurst was a multimedia artist who found great joy in the creative process. Said Hurst, "In the hours of creativity when I engage in shaping boulders into form and the form becomes alive and a thing of beauty, my spirit soars."

In September 2003, the Hursts, Ralph and his wife Jean, established the Ralph and Jean Hurst Collection with Tallahassee Community College through donation of artwork of substantial value. The Ralph Hurst Gallery was cut out of a space next to the performing arts theatre co-designed by Jean Hurst founding theatre director and English professor at Tallahassee Community College from 1969-2000. On perpetual exhibition, the collection of their art not only allows them to share creativity with students and faculty of the College campus but with the entire community and perhaps impart some of their enthusiasm for art as well as inspire and teach others to appreciate art.

Chronology
1918 Born September 4 to Jessie and Matilda Hurst, Decatur, Adams County, Indiana
1925-37 Education: Public Schools, Decatur, Indiana
1937 Education: Ball State Teachers College, Muncie, Indiana
1938 Education: Indiana Central College, Indianapolis, Indiana
1939-40 Education: Indianapolis Academy of Commercial Art
1941-90 Married Nora M. Buchanan
1942-46 Photographer, Army Air Corps
1949 Bachelor of Science, Art Education, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana
1949-50 Joined faculty Junior High School, Richmond, Indiana
1950-51 Joined faculty as Teaching Fellow Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana
1951 American Sculptors ExhibitionMetropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York
1951 Ogunquit School of Painting and Sculpture, Ogunquit, Maine Indiana
1952 Most Meritorious Award and Bronstein Purchase Award, Tri State Exhibition, Museum of Arts and Sciences, Evansville, Indiana
1952 First Prize, Hoosier Salon Patrons Association Annual Exhibition, Indianapolis, Indiana
1952 Award, Indiana Artists Association, John Herron Art Museum, Indianapolis, Indiana
1952 Master of Fine Arts, Sculpture (studied with internationally renowned French/American Sculptor Robert Laurent) Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana
1952 Joined faculty, Miami Junior High, Miami, Florida
1953 Cantor Award, Indiana Artists Association, John Herron Art Museum, Indianapolis, Indiana
1953 Prize and Craftsmanship Award, Florida Craftsman Annual Exhibitions, University of Miami, Miami, Florida
1953-79 Professor of Art, Florida State University,Tallahassee, Florida
1979 Professor Emeritus
1953 (summer) Initial Curator, Ogunquit Museum of Art,Ogunquit, Maine
1953 American Sculptors Exhibition, Madison Square Garden, New York, New York
1954 Contemporary Sculptors Drawings, Ohio State University,Columbus, Ohio
1954 Award, New Orleans Art Association Exhibition, Isaac Delgado Museum, New Orleans, Louisiana
1954 Award, Four Arts Society Exhibition, Palm Beach, Florida
1956 First Prize, Hoosier Salon Patrons Association Annual Exhibitions, Indianapolis, Indiana
1956 Purchase Award, New Orleans Art Association Exhibition,Isaac Delgado Museum, New Orleans, Louisiana
1957-59 President, Florida Sculptors Association
1957 Award, Florida Craftsmen’s Annual Exhibitions, Florida StateUniversity, Tallahassee, Florida
1958 Award, Associated Florida Sculptors Exhibition, Miami,Florida
1959 Purchase Award, Associated Florida Architects Special ArtExhibition, Jacksonville Art Museum, Jacksonville, Florida
1959 First Prize, Florida Craftsmen’s Annual Exhibitions, FloridaState University, Tallahassee, Florida
1959 Designed and built house at1801 Skyland Drive, Tallahassee, Florida
1959 Joined Signature Gallery, Atlanta, Georgia
1960 The Daily Bread Liturgical International Art Exhibition Civic Auditorium, San Francisco, California
1961 Ball Gallery Award, National Small Sculpture Exhibition, Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana
1961 Faculty Research GrantTo explore new methods of casting sculpture in metals
1963 Award, Associated Florida Sculptors Exhibition, Miami, Florida
1963 Cast stone bas-relief: School of Education Building (Carothers Building), West Entrance, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida
1963 Cast stone bas-reliefs, 340 panels (co-design with Artist LeonMead)University Union Building, Florida State University, Tallahassee,Florida
1964 Joined LeMoyne Art Foundation, Tallahassee, Florida
1964 Leave to travel 3 months in Europe
1964 Joined Harmon Galleries of American Art, Naples, Florida (ownership changed to William Meek in 1978)
1965 Joined Group Gallery, Jacksonville, Florida
1965 Joined Gallery of Art, Panama City, Florida
1966 Joined Artists Equity, New York, New York
1966 Joined Las Olas Gallery, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
1967 Sculpture selected for Southeastern Art Traveling Exhibition,High Museum, Atlanta, Georgia
1967 Faculty Development Grant, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida To make films on carving sculpture
1968 Joined P. S. Galleries, Ogunquit, Maine
1968 Leave to travel in Mexico
1970 Joined Galleria La Costa, Carlsbad, California
1971 Merit Award, Frank A Weaner Gallery, Ybor City, Florida
1971 Community Purchase Award, Mobile Art Association, Mobile, Alabama
1971 Faculty Development Grant, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida To work in Italy carving in alabaster and marble and to visit design centers in Europe and Scandinavian Countries
1972 Purchase Award, Mobile Art Association, Mobile, Alabama
1972 Merit Award, Pensacola Art Center Association Best of Florida Exhibition, Pensacola, Florida
1973-present Who's Who in American Art
1974 Leave to travel in Italy 1975 Joined 2 + 2 LTD Art Gallery, New Orleans, Louisiana
1975 Joined International Sculpture Center, Washington, D C
1975 Joined Left Bank Gallery, St. Simons, Georgia
1976 Joined Midtown Payson Galleries, Portland, Maine and Hobe Sound, Florida
1977 Leave to travel in Italy
1978 Joined Harmon Meek Gallery, Naples, Florida
1979 Major Florida Artists Award, Harmon Gallery, Naples, Florida
1979 Joined P. S. Galleries, Dallas, Texas
1979 Joined Art Sources, Inc., Jacksonville, Florida
1979 Art Patron art nominee of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Hirshhorn: an exhibition of the work of artists nominated by the Southeastern Advisory Council for the Southeastern Center for ContemporaryArt, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
1980 Joined Foster Harmon Galleries of American Art,Sarasota, Florida
1982 Joined Verzyl Gallery, New Port, Long Island, New York
1982 Joined Mickelson Gallery, Washington, D C
1986 Honoree of the Adams County, Indiana, Sesquicentennial for outstanding achievement as a noted sculptor
1987 Joined Magadini Gallery, Scottsdale, Arizona
1989 Joined London Gallery, Montreal, Canada
1990 Married Jean M. English
1990-93 Artist in Residence, The University of Tennessee at Martin, Tennessee
1993 Appointed, Tennessee Arts Commission Advisory Panel onArts in Education
1993 Redesigned artist's original house and studio of 1959 now known as "The Dovecote" 1801 Skyland Drive, Tallahassee, Florida
1997 Key to the City, Decatur, Indiana
1998 Erekson Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts,Decatur, Indiana
Public Works
1947 GIRL WASHING HER HAIR, Mahogany carving, Appleton Museum of Art, Ocala, Florida
1951 GIRL WITH BIWA, Alabaster carving, Evansville Museum of Arts and Sciences, Evansville, Indiana
1951 GIRL AND BIRD, Mahogany carving, Tallahassee Museum of History and Natural Science, Tallahassee, Florida
1953 SGT. WHIDDON, Oil portrait, Whiddon Armory, Tallahassee, Florida
1956 DEAN RALPH EYMAN, Oil portrait, Stone Building,Library Resource Center, College of Education, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida
1956 REV. W. JEFFERY ALFRIEND, Oil portrait, St. John’sEpiscopal Church, Tallahassee, Florida
1956 REV. W JEFFERY ALFRIEND, Plaster bust, St. John’s Episcopal Church, Tallahassee, Florida
1957 THREE FIGURES, Stone bas-relief, Carothers Building,Former College of Education Building, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida
1957 RHYTHM, Mahogany bas-relief sculpture (H 20” x W 28)The University of Florida, P. K. Yonge School, Gainesville, Florida
1962 J. G. KELLUM, Oil portrait, Kellum Hall, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida
1963 ABSTRACT BAS-RELIEF PANELS, 340 Panels, relief-cement sand casting sculptures, Oglesby Student Union, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida (Co-Design with Artist Leon Mead)
1967 GIRL WITH LOON, Steatite carving, Gulf Life CorporateTowers, Jacksonville, Florida
1971 OUR LADY OF APPALACHIA, STATUE OF THE VIRGIN MARY, A MEDIEVAL SHRINE, Mixed media,St. Thomas More Cathedral, Tallahassee, Florida
1972 THE LOVED, Walnut woodcarving, Adams County Museum, Decatur, Indiana
1973 MOSES, Steatite carving, Temple Israel, Columbus, Georgia
1975 ABRAHAM, Alabaster carving, Tampa Public Library,Tampa, Florida
1975 SPIRIT OF PSYCHOLOGY AND THE ARTS, Alabaster carving,Cashel Center for Psychology and the Arts, Lake Worth, Florida
1978 DON QUIXOTE, Cement, Gusman Concert Hall, University ofMiami, Miami, Florida
1978 SEATED FIGURE, Alabaster carving, Otto G. Richter Library,University of Miami, Miami, Florida
1978 BROWN GEESE, Alabaster carving, Tupperware World Head-quarters, Orlando, Florida
1978 UNTITLED and FLORIDA DOE, Alabaster carvings, The Florida Collection, Barnet Bank of Jacksonville, Florida
1979 GROSBEAK MADONNA, Alabaster carving, Library,The University of Tennessee at Martin, Martin, Tennessee
1983 SEA FORMS, Alabaster carving, Philharmonic Center for theArts, Naples, Florida
1981 UNTITLED; ELDER BIRD; THE GREAT HORNBILL, Alabaster carvings, Thomasville Arts Guild, Thomasville Cultural Center, Thomasville, Georgia
1982 VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR AWARD, Alabaster carving and maquette design symbol, ceramic casting, Tallahassee Democrat, Tallahassee, Florida
1986 SEALS, Alabaster carving, Decatur Public Library, Decatur,Indiana
1987 STANDING FIGURE, Bronze, Helen Lind Garden, LeMoyneArt Foundation, Tallahassee, Florida
1987 LIONESS AND CUB, Alabaster carving, Chancellors’ Office,Hall-Moody Administration Building, The University of Tennessee at Martin, Martin, Tennessee
1988 AL BLOCK, Bronze bas-relief plaque, LeMoyne Art Foundation,Tallahassee, Florida
1988 SEA FANTASY, Alabaster carving, Ohio University, Athens,Ohio
1991 TROPICAL BIRD FORM, Mexican alabaster carving,Chancellors’ Conference Room, The University of Tennessee at Martin, Martin, Tennessee
1992 PREENING DUCK, Alabaster carving, Bay County Library,Panama City, Florida
1993 IDENTIFICATION WALL AND UNIVERSITY SEAL,The University of Tennessee at Martin, Martin, Tennessee
1993 FIELDS OF WILD IRISES # 1 AND # 2,“CONSIDER THE LILIES OF THE FIELD,” Two Wall Murals (8’ x 4’ and 6’ x 4’) acrylic,Chancellors’ Conference Room, Hall-Moody AdministrationBuilding, The University of Tennessee at Martin, Martin, Tennessee.
1993 EIGHT CHANCELLORS, Water Color Portraits, Chancellors’Conference Room,Hall-Moody Administration Building, The University of Tennessee at Martin, Martin, Tennessee
1997 CLAUDE PEPPER, Bas-relief portrait, bronze, Claude PepperCenter,Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida
1997 GOLDEN EAGLE, Alabaster carving, Capitol Building, Tallahassee, Florida
1997 DANCING IBIS, Bronze casting, bas relief, Riverside CivicCenter,Decatur, Indiana
1998 CUB WITH FISH, Alabaster carving, Leon County PublicLibrary, Tallahassee, Florida
2000 ANGELS’ ANGEL, Alabaster carving, Museum of Art Angels,Inc., Tallahassee, Florida
2000 SLEEPING BEAR, Alabaster carving, Hospice parlor,Tallahassee, Florida

 

"CELEBRATION"

Sculpted by Ralph Hurst for his wife Jean on their fifth wedding anniversary, the 8 foot-tall sculpture was the focal point of the Hurst's gardens at their home, The Dovecote, designed by Hurst. The original sculpture was constructed of cement, rebar, hardware cloth, and stucco. "I am a projector of love, surrounding everyone I see with soothing, healing love. I am a projector of beauty celebrating the beauty of the human soul. Expressing love between two beings, whether human, animal, bird, or other species, is uplifting and represents the embodiment of the human condition."

-Ralph Hurst