For your consideration, a fired clay sculpture by Father Richard P. Purcell (1938-2011), circa 1956. The work depicts a seated friar with his arms and hands open, as if to hold a child. The sculpture is noteworthy for its modernist aesthetics; the figures face, robed body, and posture are all depicted in the stylized manner of the Abstract Expressionist Movement. The sculpture measures 6” tall, 6”x5” in width, and is in excellent vintage condition with no cracks, damage, or repairs. The work is identified by a printed label affixed to its base which reads: “Fr. Richard P. Purcell OFM”, “Old Mission Santa Barbara, Calif.”, “seated figure (1956) white clay shoe polish finish”. This sculpture was created in the early “pre-divinity” years prior to Purcell’s admission to the priesthood; the work anticipates his joining the Franciscan order.
Bio: “Richard P. Purcell was born Nov. 7, 1938, in Helena, where he spent his youth. In 1960, he left Helena to join the St. Barbara Province of the Order of Friars Minor (Franciscans). He was ordained a priest in 1968. Richard lived and worked for the next 20 years on the Papago and Pima Indian reservations in southern Arizona. He came to San Francisco in June 1989 to care for his brother, Marty, who was dying of AIDS. After Marty’s death, Richard stayed on in his brother’s apartment to begin a new ministry to homeless people with AIDS. Then, in 1993, Richard formed the nonprofit Aurora Dawn Foundation (ADF), in a beautiful old Victorian house in the Mission District. Richard’s philosophy was that: “The homeless, the sick and the rejected among us deserve more than scraps, crumbs and leftovers. They deserve choice and preferential treatment. All it takes is love.” Richard’s work here continued on for the next 20-plus years until he moved to Coming Home Hospice in May. Richard was blessed with many natural gifts and talents. Throughout his life, he produced many paintings, drawings, sculptures and silver work. As pastor and teacher, he blessed others with his creative speaking and writing skills. He was the eternal optimist, always inspiring others not to give up along the way. Richard changed many lives with his compassion and steadfast encouragement. His ability to laugh at just about anything (including himself) endeared him to most all who met him”.
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