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Umbrella Online - Current Issue

umbrella on line

ISSN 0160-0699

Volume 28, No. 4, Dec 2005

ArtPeople

Awards

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Passings

Alan Shields, whose radiantly colored, sewing-machine stitched, three-dimensional paintings made him prominent in the New York art world of the 1970s, died in December at his home on Shelter Island, New York at the age of 61. Although a Post-Minimalist, his work had a joyful quality at odds with his many more cerebral contemporaries. During the 90s, he made art out of just about anything, including wood beads, making necklaces. He collaborated on handmade books, excelled at watercolor, and became an innovative printmaker, experimenting with handmade paper and turning out editions in which each print was unique.

Howard Gotlieb, legendary archivist at Boston University, who cajoled, charmed, wheedled, and groveled to snare the papers of notables such as Martin Luther King Jr., Betty Davis, H.G. Wells, Elie Wiesel, Robert Redford, Ella Fitzgerald, not to mention Fred Astaire’s dancing shoes, died in November at the age of 79.

Lou Myers, a satiric artist and graphic essayist whose expressive style helped modernize cartoons in advertisements and major American magazines, died in November at the age of 90. He illustrated movie posters for 20th Century Fox and Columbi Pictures in New York. He also illustrated children’s books in France and began drawing captionless cartoons for French magazines and newspapers. He also published short stories, poetry, and illustrated magazine and newspaper articles for many publications.

R. C. Gorman, a leading Native American artist whose archetypal portrayals of voluptuous Navajo women in paintings, prints, ceramics and sculpture became enormously popular in homes and offices, died in Albuquerque at the age of 73 or 74.

James Ingo Freed, an architect and partner of I.M. Pei, whose own buildings ranged from the provocatively somber United States Holocaust Memorial Museum to the sprawling crystal palace of the Javits Convention Center in Manhattan, died in New York City at the age of 75.

Ruth Clement Bond, a prominent educator and civic leader who in the mid-1930s, in her first and only foray into quilt design, helped transform the American quilt from a utilitarian bedcovering into a work of avant-garde social commentary, died at the age of 101 at her daughter’s home in Manhattan in November. She was known for a series called the T.V.A. quilts, sewn in rural Alabama by the wives of African-American workers building dams there for the Tennessee Valley Authority.

Unable to pursue a Ph.D., she found there was no local university in Alabama at which she could enroll, so she worked with the wives of the workers, teaching them to make curtains from dyed feed sacks and rugs form cornhusks. She also began designing pictorial quilts celebrating black Americans’ expanded opportunities under the New Deal.

Débora Arango, a prolific artist who at first repelled socially conservative Colombia with stark paintings of nudes and social conflict but who was later celebrated as one of the country’s most inventive, daring artists, died on 4 December at her rambling colonial home outside Medellin at the age of 98.

She painted works that depicted the hurdles and indignities she found in being a woman in a strict Roman Catholic country. She did paintings of prostitutes, which shocked midcentury sensibilities, and one of a woman giving birth in prison.

Early in her career she painted murals with Pedro Nel Gomez, a well-known artist, which portrayed the powerful and influential of Colombian society. But then she began to depict social issues, as well as the female body, which she often depicted as corpulent and wrinkled. All her subjects had an edge, tackling social and religious issues, focusing on race and poverty.

John E. Buchanan Jr. has been named the new director of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, effective 1 February. He comes to San Francisco from the Portland Art Museum in Oregon for the past 11 years. He replaces Harry S. Parker III, who for 18 years has run the Fine Arts Museum, even through its new building, just opened.

E. Stewart Williams, an architect whose many works in Palm Springs, California, including a home for Frank Sinatra, helped define what became known as the Desert Modern style, died in September at the age of 95.

Julian Blake, 87, the creator of the award-winning comic-strip “Tiger,” which appeared in hundreds of newspapers worldwide, died in December.

Stan Berenstain, who with his wife, Jan, wrote and illustrated the best-selling Berenstain Bears children’s books-soft-sell morality plays that revel in poking fun at and safely solving the everyday travails of family life-died in November at the age of 82.

Sydney Leff, who depicted the moon-June-spoon romance of the Jazz Age through sheet music illustrations for hundreds of popular songs, died in December at the age of 104. He was one of the few pace-setters in the 1920s and 1930s that flourished until radio, film and T V replaced family gatherings around the piano. He used angular Art Deco designs to convey the antic or romantic rhythm of songs by Irving Belrin, Harold Arlen and Duke Ellington. His classmate at a vocational high school in East Harlem was Al Hirschfeld, who became the revered theater caricaturist and illustrator for the New York times. His pen-and-ink illustrations have become iconic.

John Peter Moore, a close aide to Salvador Dali who was convicted of tampering with one of the surrealist master’s paintings, died in December in Spain at the age of 86. Having become his assistant in the 1950s, after meeting Dali in Italy, accompanying the artist on many of his world tours during the 20 years as personality assistant.. When Dali became ill and bedridden, Moore’s influence over the artist’s activities increased, and his tampering with Dali’s 1969 painting, “The Double Image of Gala’ occurred in October 2004. In searching Moore’s home and workshops, the police found 10,000 allegedly faked Dali lithographs.

Mimmo Rotella, the Italian artist who was one of the last surviving members of the influential French Nouveaux Réalistes group, died in January at the age of 87 after a long illness. He was best known for his collages-or, as he called them, décollages-made from old and weathered posters that he stripped off outdoor walls in Rome. He began producing those works in the early 1950s. He was the Italian representative to the Venice Biennale in 1964.

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