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William Acheff was born on January 28, 1947, in Anchorage, Alaska, of Georgian, Russian, Scottish, Dutch, and Athabascan Indian ancestry. His grandfather came to Alaska in 1898 at the onset of the Alaskan gold rush.
Acheff’s art career began with a chance meeting with Italian artist Roberto Lupetti in 1969. From that first visit to the Lupetti studio, Acheff’s artistic potential found a direction. In 1973, energized and restless, Acheff wandered into Taos and within several months discovered the Native American artifacts that would define his career. Still in Taos—while discovering and exploring new visions—the excitement persists.
Acheff was honored at the Autry’s 2019 Masters of the American West with the John J. Geraghty Award in recognition of his advancement of contemporary art. In 2004 and 1989, he received the Prix de West Purchase Award at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum’s Prix de West Invitational Art Exhibition & Sale. His work was included in Covering the West, a traveling exhibition in conjunction with Southwest Art magazine’s 25th-anniversary edition.
Acheff’s style is suggestive of Dutch still-life painters from the 17th to the 19th centuries, particularly the Harnett trompe l’oeil school. At the Autry’s 1998 Masters of the American West, Acheff won the Masters of the American West Award, given in recognition of the work acquired for the museum’s permanent collection. He is semi-retired as of 2017.
William Acheff is represented by Nedra Matteucci Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico; and Settlers West Galleries Inc., Tucson, Arizona.
View the Autry’s interview with William Acheff here. Recorded live January/2023.
Red Moccasins and Drumsticks