This week we’re featuring the town of Harrington, Washington (pop. 424) and sharing some of the stories of rural revival happening here! Today’s guest post is from Leslie LePere, a wheat farmer by day and an artist by night. Les is widely known for his book cover designs and illustrations for Northwest writer Tom Robbins, and his work can be seen in galleries across the country. Welcome, Les!
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My name is Leslie W. LePere. (However, most of my friends in Seattle call me Pencil or Lead or Lead Pencil.) I was born and raised in Eastern Washington on a wheat farm outside of Harrington, Washington. 23 students in my graduating class in 1964. My sister made paper dolls as I was growing up. My mother provided reams of paper to draw and color on. My mother was quite a seamstress and my father could repair anything. Small school, small curriculum. I had one art class prior to college, and I was in 7th grade and made a pair of cufflinks.
By college I became fascinated with art classes and my skills matured to earn me a position in Graduate School at Washington State University in Pullman, Washington. During those two years of Graduate School I was employed at the University Press where I was introduced to Graphic Design. It was during that time that I fell in love with lettering, type, and signs that then became a central focus of my career.
So off to Seattle to teach art, show fine art in galleries, and really start to develop a varied portfolio rich with watercolors and graphics for businesses and individuals. My style can simply be stated as having a focus on recognizable subject matter. Objects as the subject. Pictures of things that had happened to me. Book covers for Tom Robbins, seven in total including “Still Life With Woodpecker.” Champlevé enamel jewelry and small sculptures made with Ken Cory. We were known as the Pencil Bros. Ken passed in 1994. Our work is included in two dozen museums across the United States. The Boston Art Museum, The Renwick, Washington D.C., Yale University, The Houston Art Museum, The L.A. County Museum, The Crocker Museum, Sacramento, Little Rock Art Museum, The Tacoma Art Museum, The Museum of Art and Design, New York, The Ram Museum, Racine WI, and the Jundt Art Museum on the campus of Gonzaga University, Spokane, Washington where I had a retrospective show in 2013 featuring over 200 works dating back to 1953.
Another important body of work done in collaboration with Charlie King as Sandy Parr include numerous pins and ball markers for events and organizations across America.
In 1980 I moved back to Harrington to work the family wheat farm. This allowed me to independently develop my art and design career.
With the newly regenerated community enthusiasm in Harrington to awaken the past, and push to the future, a new spirit has arisen. I have spear headed the effort to repaint and electrify old and new neon and signage to enhance the downtown look.
My past love for graphics has now found a new life in Harrington. I have become a passionate member of the Rural Revival.
Leslie W. LePere
Harrington High School,1964
Washington State University B.A., 1968
Washington State University, MFA, 1971
Find out more about the rural revival happening in Harrington, Washington here: