For Immediate Release

A Retrospective Debuts at GRAM this Fall

Largest and most comprehensive exhibition of Weidenaar’s work in over three decades

GRAND RAPIDS, MI, August 18, 2015 – The Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM) is proud to announce its Fall 2015 exhibition—Reynold Weidenaar: A Retrospective—which will be on view from October 25, 2015 through January 17, 2016.

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.

Reynold Weidenaar deserves to be widely recognized for his place within the trajectory of American art, and GRAM’s exhibition, publications, and collaborative programs aim to achieve this goal,” explained Dana Friis-Hansen, Director & CEO. Known around Grand Rapids for his ubiquitous sketchpad and red beret, visitors will enjoy exploring the drawings, prints, watercolors, and paintings that he created between 1932 and 1982, as nearby as Monroe Avenue and as far away as rural Mexico.”

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 a 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 prints 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.

Reynold Weidenaar: A Retrospective has been curated by Cindy Buckner, GRAM Associate Curator and co-author of the extensive catalog that accompanies the exhibition. Ms. Buckner will present the lecture Beyond Familiar Ground: The Artistic Journey of Reynold Weidenaar on Saturday, October 25, 2015 at 2:00 pm. Ms. Buckner will take visitors on a journey from his experiences as a young art student where he developed into an avid and innovative printmaker, to his experimentation with fantastical prints and paintings, and to his contentious relationship with the modern art of the 1950s and 1960s. This lecture is free with admission, and free for GRAM members.

It has been a real joy to work on this exhibition and publication,” noted Buckner. The opportunity to share Reynold Weidenaar’s immense talent with a larger audience is extremely gratifying. Visitors will recognize familiar West Michigan landscapes and cityscapes, and they will marvel at the intricate detail he was able to achieve. When observed up close, the viewer is able to appreciate the quirky and sometimes racy sense of humor captured in his work.”

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.

GRAM has published a catalog of the same name to accompany the exhibition of Reynold Weidenaar: A Retrospective, which will be available for purchase in The Museum Store. The publication celebrates Weidenaar’s artistic journey and includes images of his celebrated mezzotints, etchings, watercolor and oil paintings, and drawings. In addition to this print publication, GRAM has also published Reynold Weidenaar: An Interactive, an iBook that explores the artist’s work through magnified details, archival material, and documentary photographs that call out the three major themes of the exhibition: Building a National Reputation, Upholding Community Connections, and Mastering Artistic Skills.

Drop-in tours will be held regularly on the following dates for guests to learn about Reynold Weidenaar: A Retrospective from one of the Museum’s dedicated docents. Drop-in tours are free for members and free with admission.

October 25, 2015, 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
November 1, 2015, 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
November 14, 2015, 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
November 15, 2015, 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
November 17, 2015, 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
November 27, 2015, 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
December 6, 2015, 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
December 12, 2015, 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
December 15, 2015, 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
December 20, 2015, 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
December 29, 2015, 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
January 9, 2016, 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
January 16, 2016, 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
January 17, 2016, 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Support for Reynold Weidenaar: A Retrospective is generously provided by The Meijer Foundation, Wege Foundation, Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation, and Cate and Sid Jansma Jr., with additional funding provided by GRAM Annual Exhibition Fund supporters, Jim and Mary Nelson.

Use of press images must be accompanied by the full credit line, which is found in the individual image description.


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