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Elzy J. "Bill" Bird
(1911 - 2001)
Elzy Jay "Bill" Bird was born in Salt Lake City and lived in Midvale, Utah. He was an oil and opaque-watercolor painter, printmaker, designer, cartoonist, arts administrator, and architectural draftsman. He studied with Bessie Alice Bancroft (q.v.) at West Junior High, Salt Lake School District; with Cornelius Salisbury (q.v.) at West High School, Salt Lake City; with James T. Harwood (q.v.) and Jack Sears (q.v.) at the University of Utah (1929-31); at Chouinard School of Art, Los Angeles (1933). He wrote and illustrated children's books, including Ten Tall Tales (1985), and held positions such as animation artist at Walt Disney Studios (1933); artist for several government projects—PWAP/FERA/WPA/FAP—(1933-1942); director for the Utah Federal Art Project (1937-42); member of the U.S. Army Engineers (1942-46); an architectural designer-draftsman for FFKR and other architects in Salt Lake City (1947-78). In 1939, Bird's critically acclaimed watercolor Takin' Five was shown at the New York World's Fair. Then in 1940, Bird's genre piece The Gossips, an admirable example of American scene painting, was exhibited in a show of regionalist painters, with a Thomas Hart Benton on one side and a Grant Wood on the other. In 1997, a series of pen-and-ink drawings of his youth were shown at the Springville Museum of Art and a major solo exhibition with color catalog in January.