Eldridge Bagley lives with his wife and son on the farm where he grew up in Lunenburg County, Virginia. Farm life in the early years with his parents and siblings was a harshly demanding yet gently nurturing lifestyle. This paradox remains a motivating force in his life and his art.
Bagley was 27 years old and still farming when he first attempted to transfer his inner visions to cardboard panels from a dime store paint set. Choosing not to pursue formal art training, he began to develop his own unique approach to painting,
In 1979, Bagley’s first exhibition at Scott McKennis Gallery in Richmond provided a breakthrough for the artist. A succession of gallery exhibits at Cudahy’s, White Canvas, and glavé kocen followed—continuing a 35-plus year run of annual solo shows in Richmond.
Eldridge captures the rural South in spirit and detail: the joys and the hardships of a life that was quieter, calmer, rawer, and rougher than the suburban existence most Americans know today. He has ventured into themes that depart from the simpler rural life that he has become known for. Still, he has always returned to the familiar scenes and narratives of rural life. Bagley states, “I always come back to those things because they are so close to my heart; they are the essential subjects that inspire and motivate me.”
In 2011, the Folk Art Society of America recognized Eldridge with their Folk Artist of the Year award. His work is included in various public and private collections. Bagley continues to render visions of life around him, ever expanding his field of subjects and visions for viewers to ponder.