Wall Batterton Biography

Wall Batterton




Wall Batterton was born in Fort Worth, Texas on April 10, 1932. He was drafted into the U.S. Army and sent to Ft. Riley, Kansas for basic training. The ceasefire ending the Korean War was signed as he was finishing his heavy weapons training. He remained in Kansas for a time while he completed an art piece for special services and then completed his second year of service in Missouri.

In 1950, while waiting for admission to Washington University in St. Louis, Batterton was hired as an apprentice in the art department at Ralston-Purina Company and soon realized that he might be able to make a living with his artistic talents.

He moved to California in 1954 and the following year enrolled at the Chouinard Art Institute where he studied until 1959. Among the students were Ed Ruscha and many other artists that helped to define the Los Angeles art scene of the 1960s and 1970s. Batterton was a member of the group “Students 5” that consisted of Jerry McMillan, Ed Ruscha, Don Moore, Pat Blackwell and Joe Goode.

Batterton worked as an artist and printer with Joe Funk at Kanthos Press in Los Angeles in the early 1960s and his prints were included in the 1964 4th Biennial in Pasadena. He first began exhibiting in Los Angeles with the Los Angeles County Museum Annual Exhibition in 1961, and continued to show throughout the 1960s with exhibitions at the Pasadena Museum, the Downey Museum of Art, the Molly Barnes Gallery, and his one-man exhibition at the Souza Gallery in Mexico City, thanks to Jose Luis Cuevas. 

In 1964, Batterton began using aluminum paint that culminated in an exhibition at the Pasadena Museum. He states his reason for choosing this material -- “I used aluminum paint (a reflective non-color to me) in several sky treatments and for the illusion of wetness that we see in the distance as we travel a long stretch of highway.”  In 1970, Batterton showed his “Aluminum Paintings” at Anhalt Gallery and continued to exhibit in California, Arizona and New Mexico.

The materials that Batterton used - aluminum paint and car lacquer - led to very serious health problems, prompting him to cease painting for ten years, and after a period of de-tox from hazardous materials, he resumed painting with more traditional media. He left Los Angeles in 1986 for Las Cruces, New Mexico where he lived until 1991. Northern California beckoned and he moved to Healdsburg, California residing there until his move to Tucson, Arizona in 2003. Batterton returned to Las Cruces in 2013 and continues to work.

Artist and friend Ed Ruscha commented in an exhibition catalogue Wallworks: “As students, we were always searching for names for the surface area an artist happens to work on. We called it a working area; then, we called it a “playing field.” Wall once referred to it as a “construction site” amusing us to no end. My mind keeps referring to a small painting he once did of a desert landscape. In his construction site, each object, item or thing displayed had gone through a period of scrutiny, then it was put to use in the picture. Likewise, all the pictures on display in this exhibition have gone through similar moments of introspection, adventures and accomplishments.”