OIL ON PANEL, SIGNED, TITLED
AMERICAN, DATED 1955
18 X 24 INCHES
Ashley is noted for his equestrian and jazz subjects, Frank Ashley was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, on March, 17, 1920. He grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota, and studied at the University of Minnesota.
He enlisted in the Army Air Corps in June, 1941. He served combat duty in England as a B-17 pilot, completing 25 missions. He was awarded two Distinguished Flying Crosses, a Purple Heart and four Air Medals. In 1945 he was discharged with the rank of captain.
Upon his return to the United States, Ashley continued his studies at the American Academy of Art in Chicago, Illinois, and then at the Minneapolis Art Institute until 1947. He then moved to New York City where he studied with Reginald Marsh at the Art Students' League of New York, also acting as Marsh's assistant.
In 1955 he married Betty Brader, a painter and illustrator; it was his third marriage. Ashley won the grand prize in the 1957 New York Art Show, Art USA.
During his stay in New York, Frank Ashley frequented the Metrapole Club where he met many later "jazz greats". This early experience and his subsequent friendships with Louis Armstrong and Dave Brubeck in San Francisco provided him with one of his major artistic themes: the world of the jazz artist.
Beginning in 1960, Ashley portrayed equine subjects with increasing frequency, including in his paintings many of the great race courses of England and France. From the middle 1970s to the early 1980s, he lived in Middleburg, Virginia, with his wife. There he painted local foxhunting, racing, and steeple chasing events.
By the middle 1980s they moved to Carmel, California, where he was a member of the Carmel Art Association. In Carmel he changed his focus to subjects of jazz musicians and popular culture. During the 1990s his subjects were often civil rights and environmental topics.
Ashley was living in Monterey, California, as of 2006; he died December 16, 2007.