The eccentric and regionally known artist known as RichArt, real name Richard Tracy, died Dec. 22 at Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia at the age of 89.
Locally, Tracy was known for his sprawling installment of art in his yard at the corner of Harrison Avenue and M Street in Centralia.
Born in Yakima on Nov. 15, 1933, Tracy attended high school in Naches and earned bachelor's and master’s degrees from the Central Washington University College of Education.
He served in the U.S. Army and taught at schools in Yakima, Olympia, Seattle and Sequim before moving to Centralia in the 1960s.
Tracy dabbled in both painting and sculpting. He gained notoriety for large and intricate art pieces he would build and display in his yard. His work drew inspiration from expressionism and included amalgamations of cubism.
In the spring of 2014, his art was featured in a Portland Museum of Modern Art exhibit.
He was also famous for his obsession with the number five, and would charge visitors $5 for a 55-minute tour of his personal art studio and home in Centralia.
On multiple occasions, he held fundraisers for the Twin Cities Senior Center in which he would sell his work for $5 a piece. Tracy was also a volunteer at the senior center.
According to previous reporting by The Chronicle, Tracy believed five was a democratic number, meaning three decide while two have to follow. He estimated that he had more than 1,000 paintings in his home during the 2016 interview.
“I make so much,” Tracy said of his paintings at the time. “Probably an average of one picture every 55 minutes (when I’m painting).”
In 2001, Tracy was featured in a 23-minute long independent film documentary directed by Vanessa Renwick and Dawn Smallman of Portland.
"He is really incredibly talented as an artist," Renwick said in a 2004 Seattle Times article about Tracy. "He is able to see things in stuff we look at as crap."
Renwick and Smallman’s documentary can be viewed online at https://vimeo.com/74886613/a79fcc61ab.
In a Roadside America article about his work, Tracy stated that the number five would still be in play in his world, even after his death.
“Rich says his will stipulates that within five days of his death, a friend with a backhoe will come over and completely eradicate the Art Yard — within a five-hour period,” read an excerpt from the 2004 article.
The full article can be found online at https://vimeo.com/74886613/
While Tracy took apart the Art Yard himself in 2011, he left the backyard portion of it standing, according to previous reporting by The Chronicle.
Tracy’s family plans to hold a private funeral for him.
No cause of death has been released.