A profile of Ted Long

Published: Apr. 24, 2020 at 1:15 PM CDT
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You can get an idea of what the studio of famous North Platte artist Ted Long might have looked like with a visit to the Prairie Arts Center.

Earlier this year, we talked with three of Ted Long's children at the center. We visited with Tom Long, Cathy Long, and Michaelene Long. The famous artist passed away about 12 years ago. His kids say he was born with a natural ability, and started at an early age experimenting with art. "When he was about 12 years old, he cut out a curtain of grandmother's, stretched it out, and painted on it," Cathy said. "He did a lot of art all the time. He had no formal art training. He was self-taught," Tom said.

The family says Ted Long was recognized after showing some of his work in galleries in New Mexico. "John Wayne had met him there, and bought several of his pieces," Cathy said. "John Wayne was working on the movie 'The Cowboys' in New Mexico at the time. Mom and Dad saw him on the street. Dad took his photos of his work, and John Wayne wrote him a check that day. From there, it took off for Dad," Tom said.

On the third floor of the Prairie Arts Center, you can see what the cabin where he worked might have looked like. Ted Long worked in a cabin on his ranch, that he brought in from Wyoming. When you walk in you see a bust of Standing Bear. That sculpture is in the State Capitol. Ted Long was known for oil painting and sculpture. His kids say he would research a subject with great detail before working on it. "If he found out there was a battle somewhere, he would go there and spend days just walking around," Cathy said. Along with pencil sketches, and paintings, you can see some of the memorabilia that Ted Long collected. When former Nebraska Governor Kay Orr asked former President Ronald Reagan to visit western Nebraska, the President visited Ted Long's studio, and his children still remember that as a once-in-a-lifetime event.

If you want a piece of Ted Long's art, the options are a bit limited. "They have prints for sale here at the Prairie Arts Center," Michaelene said. "We have a limited amount of paintings and bronzes. The bronze molds were all destroyed so what there is, is what there is. He was a talented fellow," she said.

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