Jan. 16, 2009
Longtime artists to showcase works at Baker University exhibit
Baldwin City, Kan. — Three longtime artists whose works have spanned more than a half century will showcase selected paintings together for the first time in a February exhibit at Holt-Russell Gallery on Baker University’s Baldwin City campus.
The exhibit, “60 Years! Three Dedicated Artists, Teachers and Friends,” will showcase the paintings of Tom Russell, Baldwin City; Will Niewald, Kansas City, Mo.; and Bob Sudlow, Lawrence. The opening reception for the exhibit will be 2-4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 1, at the gallery in Parmenter Hall.
The three well-known regional artists have been friends since the 1940s.
“There’s a driving force in each of these men that is truly inspiring,” said Walt Bailey, special assistant to the president for the development of the arts. “Even in their 80s and 90s they continue to take supplies out on location to work. They work as plein-air painters, seeing light and color directly and making visual discovery central in what they do.
“Their careers as teachers have spanned four decades in which, collectively, they taught thousands of students,” Bailey added. “Today they teach as examples, demonstrating daily what is accomplished through commitment and discipline.”
Here is a brief look at the three artists’ careers:
Born in Kansas City, Mo., in 1925, Will Niewald, 83, began attending art classes at age 10 at the Kansas City Art Institute and the Nelson Gallery. In 1943, after his freshman year at the Kansas City Art Institute, he served three years in the U.S. Naval Air Corps during World War II. In 1947 he returned to the Art Institute, where he joined the faculty two years later before receiving his Master of Fine Arts degree.
His paintings are now in countless public and private collections, including the Metropolitan Museum and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. He received in 2006 a Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, one of most prestigious honors. He also had prestigious guest-teaching residencies at institutions such as the New York Studio School and Yale University.
In 1988 he received the Distinguished Teaching of Art Award from the College Art Association of America.
Comment: “One of my earliest childhood memories is drawing in pencil and crayon while sitting on the floor in front of the fireplace of the family home. It gave me great pleasure and I was encouraged by family and friends.”
Born in 1917 in Parsons, Kan., Tom Russell, 91, graduated from the Kansas City Art Institute in 1939 where he studied under Thomas Hart Benton and John DeMartelli. During 1939-1940, he studied in New York City with the Art Students League. His degrees include the Bachelor of Fine Arts from Bethany College in 1947 and the Master of Fine Arts from Kansas City Art Institute in 1948. Russell joined the Baker University faculty in 1963 and continued to work there until his retirement in 1982. His paintings and murals have been shown throughout the Midwest, including the Nelson Gallery, Museum of Modern Art and the Vincent Price Gallery of Chicago. After Russell’s retirement from Baker, his name was added to the art gallery on the Baldwin City campus.
Comment: “I try hard to probe into emotions beyond explicit definition. I purposefully attempt to use simple shapes with organic origins or manmade shapes and try to return them to organic sensations.”
Born in Holton, Kan., in 1920, Bob Sudlow, 88, has long been considered one of the most important landscape painters to emerge from the Midwest. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Kansas, where he studied under Albert Bloch. That same year he enlisted in the U.S. Navy, trained as a pilot, flying sea planes. He earned the rank of Lieutenant Senior Grade and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for service in the Western Pacific Theater, World War II. After his war service, he spent a year in art academies in Paris. Later, he attended California College of Arts and Crafts, where he received a Master of Fine Arts degree in 1956. In 1971, he was granted full professorship at the College of Fine Arts at the University of Kansas, where he continued to teach painting before retiring in 1987. In 1974, Sudlow was the first artist to be named Kansas Governor’s Artist. He was also named Kansan of the Year in 1997 by the Native Sons and Daughters of Kansas. His paintings are included in countless exhibitions as well as numerous public and private collections across the nation and abroad.
Comment: “When I return with a painting, I have air in my lungs and have traveled a distance.”
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