In Memoriam, Bob Ellis, UNM Art Museum Assistant Director and Director, 1964-1971

ELLIS, ROBERT M. Robert (Bob) M. Ellis passed away on September 13, 2014 in Albuquerque, NM at 92. Bob Ellis was born in Cleveland, Ohio on April 14, 1922, served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, studied art on the GI Bill in Mexico City, and also quietly and emphatically influenced the course of art in Los Angeles and New Mexico. Over six decades, he wore many hats including navigator, painter, designer, educator, fundraiser and museum director. After three years in architecture school, he joined the Navy Construction Division (Seabees), where he built bridges, air strips and roads. After the war, he graduated from the Cleveland Art Institute and traveled to Mexico, where he received his BFA in Art. Like many of his generation, Bob absorbed the vitality of the powerful combination of Mexican culture and surrealism. As a student in Mexico, he encountered the works of Rivera, Orozco and Siqueiros and produced paintings in their strong figurative tradition. His departure from those influences, however, came in a series of works on the subject of a merry-go-round that fused the Cubist/Futurist formal tradition with the image of carnival and childhood memories of the medieval armor collections at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Moving to Los Angeles in the 1950’s, Bob served as Curator of Education at the Pasadena Art Museum, did graphic design for many, including the California Design Catalog, spent a year painting in Paris, and taught at the University of Southern California. He received his MFA from the same institution. After joining the UNM Art Department, he worked as Assistant Director and Director at the UNM Art Museum in Albuquerque for seven years. He was a professor at UNM for 23 years. After retiring from UNM in 1987, he moved to Taos to paint and became the Director of the Harwood Museum for 12 years. In 1998, he received the New Mexico Governor’s Award for support of the Arts, the UNM Regents Meritorious Service Award and the Local Treasure Award. In 2010, the Caroline Lee and Bob Ellis Gallery was inaugurated at the Harwood Museum, honoring Bob’s avid dedication to the museum, its education program and his lifelong passion for art. One of his most beloved roles was participating on the Board of Directors of The Mandelman-Ribak Foundation. In 2003, Bob moved back to Albuquerque, where he continued to paint and exhibit works until his death. His work is in numerous collections including the Albuquerque Museum, Museum of Fine Arts in Santa Fe and the Roswell Museum. Bob married Hazel Taylor Ellis in 1948; in 1958, he married Barbara Shannon Ellis with whom he raised her children, Derek and Wendy. In 1991, he married Caroline Lee, enjoying more than 12 years of partnership and romance until her death in 2003. He is survived by Derek Shannon (Gail), Wendy Shannon (Rick Higgins) and Caroline’s daughters, Holly Adams and Erin Adams (Mike Corney), and numerous step-grandchildren, nieces, nephews, past students and loving and devoted friends. A celebration of his life will be held on Wednesday, September 24, 2014 at 3 p.m. at FRENCH – Lomas, 10500 Lomas Blvd, NE. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in honor of Robert M. Ellis to the Outpost Performance Center or Taos Harwood Museum. There will also be a memorial service for Bob in Taos at a later date. Please visit our online guestbook for Bob at FRENCH 1111 University Blvd. NE 505-843-6333