Kalamazoo, MI.- The Kalamazoo Institute of Arts is pleased to present “Drawn to the Figure: Sigmund Abeles”, on view from July 2nd through August 27th. The expressive and psychological aspects of the figure, human and animal, have long intrigued nationally recognized artist Sigmund Abeles. The artist believes that mastery of drawing–from life as well as memory and imagination–is necessary to create convincing visual expressions of what he observes, senses, and dreams. After a long university teaching career, he now works full-time in his NYC and upstate New York studios. Abeles’ work can be found in the collections of major American museums. Sigmund Abeles was born 1934 in New York City and raised in South Carolina. He is an artist whose work deals with the expressive and psychological aspects of the human figure (and animals); an art focused on the entire life cycle.
Drawing informs all his work. He works in pastels, oils, the graphic media, and sculpture. Currently, Professor Emeritus at the University of New Hampshire, after 27 years of teaching, he is working full-time in his NYC and upstate New York studio. Recipient of numerous grants and awards, a National Academician; Abeles work is in the collections of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Chicago Art Institute, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, NYC, the Philadelphia Museum and the Whitney Museum of American Art, among many others. Coastal Carolina University awarded him an honorary doctorate in 2000. A major one-artist exhibition was at Thomas Williams Fine Arts, London, UK in 2000.
The Pastel Society of America made him their Hall of Fame Honoree for 2004 and was awarded their Degas Pastel Society Award in 2006. He is represented by The Old Print Shop, NYC, Hampton III Gallery, Greenville, SC and Cherly Newby Fine Arts, Pawley’s Island, S.C. “From Whence I Came” a retrospective was held at the Burroughs-Chapin Museum of Art in Myrtle Beach, SC, his hometown, in 2007. “Passionate Lives, Passionate Lines”, dual solo exhibits open in May at The Park Row Gallery and The Joyce Goldstein Gallery in Chatham NY. He is included in Humanity, One Hundred Years of Figurative Art at the ACA Gallery in NYC.
In 1924, the Kalamazoo Chapter of the American Federation of the Arts incorporated as the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts to present classes and establish legal responsibility for the ownership of art objects and the solicitation of funds. The mission of these active artists and art patrons was to encourage the creation and appreciation of art. Small budgets and membership numbers characterized the early years. Staffed primarily with volunteers, the KIA developed distinguished exhibitions and art classes while located in a house loaned by the Kalamazoo Board of Education. In 1947 the KIA gained a permanent home when it purchased and a renovated a Victorian mansion at 421 West South Street. In the 1930s and 40s, distinguished guest lecturers such as Diego Rivera, Thomas Hart Benton, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Le Corbusier challenged and informed local audiences about the contemporary art world. An eclectic schedule of exhibitions included work by Pablo Picasso and Paul Klee, Japanese prints and ceramics, African Art, Dutch old masters, and even an international kite collection that became a traveling exhibition. Annual juried competitions and exhibitions by local artists and students helped promote and encourage both new and established artists. In 1961, the KIA built a new facility, the Gilmore Art Center at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts at its current location. The Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill design was based on architect Mies vander Rohe’s plan for a museum in a small city, and illustrated the International style: glass walls, slab construction, exposed columns. With new exhibition areas and storage space, the KIA was able to actively build its collection for the first time. The building included exhibitions galleries, an art library, auditorium, sculpture garden, studio classrooms, and office space as well.
In 1988, the KIA developed a new logo, and became known simply as the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts. In 1994, the KIA began a $14.5 million capital and endowment campaign which resulted in building expansion and renovation designed by the Boston architectural firm of Ann Beha Associates. The addition increased the facility size by nearly 40% to 72,000 square feet. Highlights include a two-story lobby gallery, new auditorium, classrooms, and galleries, gallery shop, art library and an interactive gallery for children of all ages. In 2006, the Art School was named the Kirk Newman Art School to recognize the artist and former Art School director who contributed so much to its development. Today over 100,000 visitors each year enjoy exciting temporary exhibitions, an outstanding permanent collection of nearly 4,000 works, programs, and events at the KIA. Nearly 3,000 students enroll annually in Kirk Newman Art School classes. The collection, originally developed to complement the KIA’s art school, focuses on American painting, sculpture and ceramics, American and European works on paper from the 16th century onwards, photography and American art, from eighteenth- and nineteenth-century portraiture and landscape painting to modern and contemporary abstraction and figurative works, is the strength of the KIA’s permanent collection. Significant works by Alexander Calder, William Merritt Chase, Dale Chihuly, Richard Diebenkorn, Janet Fish, Helen Frankenthaler, Franz Kline and Andy Warhol are part of the collection. In recent years, the collection has been expanded to include Oceanic objects, Pre-Columbian gold and ceramics, African art and East Asian art. visit the museum’s website at … http://www.kiarts.org