February 2009: Alexander Beard '89
Alexander Beard ’89 is an artist extraordinaire and an entrepreneur, avant-garde in his approach to his art and his work. Influenced early on by his uncle, noted wildlife photographer Peter Beard, and other artistic and well known Beard house regulars such as Andy Warhol and Truman Capote, Alex developed his passion for creativity as a teenager, and gravitated towards doodling and sketching using a quill pen and ink.
After Hotchkiss, Alex was graduated from Tufts University with a B.A. in 1993. In an effort to define and discover himself, he decided to travel. He went shark fishing in Panama and bone fishing in Belize, diving in Australia and in the Cenotes in Tulum, and went on a six-month quest searching for a tiger in India. After discovering oil painting in Calcutta, he became the self-proclaimed “artist-in-residence” at Basil’s Bar in Mustique. It was at Basil’s that he met a couple from New Orleans who encouraged him to study at the New Orleans Academy of Fine Arts.
“The Big Easy” nurtured his soul and his unconventional style and Alex began specializing in whimsical and fantastical paintings and drawings of animals and fish. He opened the Alex Beard Gallery in the French Quarter, met his soon-to-be wife, Amy, and started a family. After Katrina, the Beards moved to New York.
Back in his old stomping grounds of Manhattan, Alex is quite at home at his studio/gallery located in Soho, where he promotes art in a welcoming, creative, and flourishing environment. Alex invites everyone to stop by, and he offers events for young and old alike. He describes the Alex Beard Studio as “a working artist’s studio, a friendly place where discourse, the flow of ideas, and participation in the artistic process are encouraged. Be curious. Poke around.”
But he has not forgotten New Orleans and returns there frequently. As a steadfast supporter of the arts in public schools, Alex values the development of self-confidence and problem-solving skills that arts education provides. This past September, he worked with a group of Central City students at the Mahalia Jackson Early Childhood and Family Learning Center at in New Orleans, along with some members of the NFL’s New Orleans Saints, to paint a 10' x 20' mural featuring his signature style of whimsical animals at play. In October, Alex returned to New Orleans for the dedication of his painting, "Shark Tank," which he donated to Audubon Institute’s Aquarium of the Americas. He created the 90” x 180” oil-based painting before Hurricane Katrina, and it featured all the inhabitants of the pre-storm shark tank.
Alex has exhibited his work in one-man shows in such places as Los Angeles, New York, and Hong Kong. His drawings and paintings have found homes in private collections from Japan to the West Indies, and in permanent museum collections. Most recently, Alex has launched the Alex Beard Impossible Puzzles line, available on his website and through major retailers around the country, including Barnes & Noble. In addition, he has an illustrated book called The Jungle Grapevine coming out from Harry N. Abrams, Inc. in 2009, as well as a new line of games called “Untamed Games” next fall.