Wilbur Niewald, ‘the ultimate artist’s artist,’ dies at 97 | KCUR 89.3

Wilbur Niewald, ‘the ultimate artist’s artist,’ dies at 97 | KCUR 89.3

If you’ve walked in close proximity to a stand of pine trees at Loose Park

If you’ve walked in close proximity to a stand of pine trees at Loose Park in Kansas Town, Missouri, not significantly from the tennis courts, you have possible seen artist Wilbur Niewald, a shock of white hair tucked below his straw hat and wearing a gentle blue denim shirt and blue denims as he painted on an easel or worked on an etching.

Starting in the 1970s, he drew and painted from immediate observation. In the blazing warmth, in the freezing chilly, on sunny and cloudy days.

Niewald died on Saturday, according to loved ones and buddies. He was 97.

“He was the final artist’s artist, always capturing the ecosystem in the very best way that he could in each individual season, painting outside the house no make any difference the climate or situations,” reported Julián Zugazagoitia, director of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

Julie Denesha


KCUR 89.3

Niewald is reflected in the glass of a portray propped up against the walls of his studio in the Livestock Trade Making.

“He was in continual pursuit of perfection regardless of whether he was portray nature, the human determine, or a nevertheless daily life.”

Invoice Haw Jr., operator of Haw Modern, a gallery that signifies the artist in Kansas Metropolis, stated Niewald “type of embodied the principle of perfection through repetition.”

“I feel what it also did is it just made people come to feel this convenience that he is there performing this same detail,” Haw said. “So that is a really variety of unhappy point that which is dropped. But it’s also kind of beautiful that it was there for so extended.”

Niewald was born in Kansas Metropolis, Missouri. His link to the Kansas City Artwork Institute started in 1935, when, as a 10-calendar year-previous, he gained a drawing contest at Blenheim Elementary Faculty — and the prize was no cost Saturday lessons for a year. He also commenced getting lessons at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art a few several years just after it opened in 1933.

Just after serving in the U.S. Navy Air Corps all through World War II, Niewald gained bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Art Institute. He was a member of the portray faculty for 43 decades and chaired the painting section from 1958 to 1985. He retired in 1992.

In the early 1970s, Niewald’s function shifted from abstraction to realism just after he returned from a portray trip to Mexico and New Mexico.


Julie Denesha


KCUR 89.3

Niewald mentioned he painted strictly from direct observation. He taught generations of college students as chair of the portray and printmaking office at the Kansas Town Artwork Institute.

“I requested myself, ‘Why am I painting indirectly? Why don’t I just glimpse out the window and paint what I see?’ And it was just one of the most liberating, freeing encounters of my everyday living,” Niewald instructed KCUR in 2012. “It opened up a whole new earth.”

In retirement, he spent several hours each individual day, normally six times a 7 days, painting outdoors in Loose Park or the West Bottoms or in his fifth-floor studio in the Livestock Trade Making.

Artist Nina Irwin rented a studio on the similar floor as Niewald for 20 a long time and was inspired by his devotion.

“I just feel so blessed to have labored with him all these years,” she claimed. “And he grew to become a very, really pricey mate.”

“He’s just a remarkable power,” she added. “And I actually can not consider it down right here with no him.”

Niewald acquired various accolades above the decades, like induction into the Nationwide Academy of Design and a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Basis fellowship in 2006.

“How could these types of a mild and form person also be a accurate fanatic? But Wilbur was,” Kansas Town Art Institute President Tony Jones reported. “He was completely devoted to two points: his loved ones and paint.”

Jones added, “A wonderful gentleman, a great instructor. He was painting very last week, just days prior to his passing. He was the serious issue, and one of the finest persons I have at any time known.”

Niewald’s work can be found in company and public collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Artwork in New York Metropolis and community institutions these as the Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Artwork, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Artwork, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Artwork and Nerman Museum of Up to date Art.


Julie Denesha


KCUR 89.3

North light-weight pours into the room as Niewald mixes paint on a properly-worn palette in his studio.

Nelson-Atkins Director Julián Zugazagoitia rotates the operates on his business office walls from the Nelson-Atkins assortment, which includes one of Niewald’s paintings, a 1960s summary work called “Aspen.”

“I am deeply saddened to listen to of the passing of Wilbur,” Zugazagoitia claimed. “I have so much admiration for the tenacity he confirmed in his pursuit of artwork, the two as an artist and as a instructor.”

“I will not overlook the easy joy he took in acquiring a meal in Rozzelle Court docket and, of study course, his steadfast devotion to his late spouse, Gerry. He will be missed pretty a lot,” Zugazagoitia included.

Niewald’s wife of 73 years, Geraldine Niewald, died in February, in the household in Mission, Kansas, which the few built and built in the 1950s. He is survived by his daughter, Janet Niewald, also an artist, and his son-in-regulation, David Crane.

“He was just always gracious and a gentleman,” Haw reported. “It is undoubtedly the stop of an period. There’s nobody like him. There never ever will be, the world’s just modified as well a lot.”