Reynold H. Weidenaar (American, 1915-1985) Dawn the Awakening City, 1951 Etching on paper 2 ½ x 3 in. Collection of Weidenaar Portfolio, Inc.

Reynold Weidenaar: A Retrospective

October 25, 2015 – January 17, 2016

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This retrospective exhibition of prints, watercolors, and oil paintings by Grand Rapids native Reynold Weidenaar (1915 – 1985) celebrates his varied and remarkable career on the 100th anniversary of his birth. Nationally recognized and locally beloved, Weidenaar is one of West Michigan’s most acclaimed and talented artists.

Weidenaar’s work is timeless, yet rooted in 20th century American Regionalism, a movement devoted to accurately representing small town and rural life. Reflecting on his career in a 1980 interview Weidenaar said, “I love to record the world around me, and that world is Michigan.” His work depicts West Michigan through a uniquely personal perspective and historical context, and his deep familiarity with the region’s people and places provided him with a wealth of subject matter to explore.

Talented, ambitious, and restlessly creative, Weidenaar repeatedly challenged himself to improve his skills and master new artistic techniques. He was known for his technical virtuosity as draftsman and printmaker, and became successful in the 1940s exhibiting and selling his etchings. Though the technique was not widely practiced in the twentieth century, Weidenaar began creating mezzotint prints in the 1950s. These were especially well received, and his work in mezzotint helped to spur a renewed appreciation and awareness of this unique form of printmaking.

In 1954 he took up watercolor painting, and within ten years had created 1,300 watercolors of West Michigan subjects–delightful landscapes and industrial scenes that burst with life. Not content with having mastered etching, mezzotint, and watercolor, Weidenaar also applied himself to painting in oil, and to rediscovering the techniques of the Dutch and Flemish Old Masters.

GRAM joins three other Grand Rapids cultural institutions in celebrating Weidenaar’s centenary year. In spring of 2015, the Grand Rapids Public Museum presented Through the Eyes of Weidenaar, which focused on his self-designated role of chronicler of his community. Concurrent with GRAM’s retrospective are exhibitions at Calvin College’s Center Art Gallery and Kendall College of Art and Design at Ferris State University. Calvin’s exhibition examines the artist’s working methods, including multiple states of individual prints, while Kendall College of Art and Design provides an overview of the artist’s work in drawing and watercolor.

Support for this exhibition is generously provided by:

The Meijer Foundation
Wege Foundation
Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation
Mrs. David Hunting Jr.
Cate and Sid Jansma, Jr.
James and Mary Nelson
Greg and Meg Willit
Jim and Donna Brooks
Sam and Janene Cummings

Additional funding is provided by:

The GRAM Exhibition Society