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Kansas City Artist Wilbur Niewald’s Portraits on view at Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art

Artist to Talk at 6:00 p.m., Friday, January 20

     Many Kansas Citians have seen Wilbur Niewald painting on site in the city’s various parks, including Loose Park and Penn Valley Park, among others. While perhaps best known for these landscapes of Kansas City, Niewald has also painted portraits in his studio since the 1970s. The exhibition Wilbur Niewald: The Studio Portrait, on view January 13–September 23, 2012, at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, looks at a selection of portraits of family, friends, and self-portraits. (The doors to the exhibition open at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, January 13.) Admission is free; however donations are welcome.
     Visitors can learn more about Niewald’s process when he speaks with Chief Curator Barbara O’Brien in a Conversation with the Artist at 6:00 p.m., Friday, January 20. The program is free in the Kemper Museum’s Meeting Room, and seating is first come, first served.
     Culled from private collections as well as from the artist’s studio, the exhibitions 14 portraits—some commissions, some of the artist and his family—span more than forty years of the artist’s personal history and his studies of the passage of time. These explorations of time are best examined in the four portraits of his wife Gerry (1973, 1976, 1985, and 2007) and in his three self-portraits (1975, 1998, and 2010) in the exhibition. The artist works from direct observation, and his subjects sit for at least 60 to 70 hours for each portrait.
Above: Wilbur Niewald, Self Portrait, 2010; oil on canvas, 32 x 23 in.; Courtesy of the artist.
     Niewald and his paintings are inextricably linked to Kansas City. Born in 1925 in Kansas City, he received his BFA in 1949 from the Kansas City Art Institute and was appointed to the faculty the same year. In 1953, he earned his MFA from the Kansas City Art Institute, where he taught for forty years. Niewald won the national College Art Association’s Distinguished Teaching for Art Award in 1988. New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art purchased a painting for its collection in 1995.
     A 40-page booklet with an interview of the artist by O’Brien and color plates of the exhibition’s works is available for free at the Kemper Museum’s Visitor Services Desk or Museum Shop.
     The Kemper Museum is home to two paintings by the artist. In 1998, the Museum acquired Trees at Linda Hall Library (1996) and in 2011, Museum Trustee J. Scott Francis gave the abstract painting Current River II (1965) in memory of Sally Kemper Wood.

Thank you

Support for the publication was generously provided by Estelle and Morton I. Sosland, Cynthia and Hugh Andrews, Lina and Dan Dickinson, Linda and Michael Lyon, Linda and Topper Johntz, and an anonymous donor.

Support for Kemper Museum exhibition is generously provided by Museum members; Missouri Arts Council, a state agency; Arvin Gottlieb Charitable Foundation, UMB Bank, n.a., Trustee; Francis Family Foundation; Richard J. Stern Foundation for the Arts, Commerce Bank, Trustee; David Woods Kemper Memorial Foundation; William T. Kemper Foundation—Commerce Bank, Trustee; ArtsKC Fund—Arts Council of Metropolitan Kansas City; DST Systems, Inc.; and Sosland Foundation.

About the Museum

The Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art opened in 1994 and at the core of the Permanent Collection is the Bebe and Crosby Kemper Collection, a gift from the Museum’s founders and the Kemper Foundations. With works dating from 1912 to the present, the Museum’s collection features paintings, sculpture, photographs, ceramics, and more by modern and contemporary artists from around the world, including Louise Bourgeois, Joan Mitchell, Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, Georgia O’Keeffe, Fairfield Porter, Matthew Ritchie, Frank Stella, Wayne Thiebaud, Andy Warhol, and Andrew Wyeth, among others. In addition, the Kemper Museum presents 10 to 12 exhibitions and welcomes 130,000 each year to its three locations—Kemper Museum, Kemper at the Crossroads, and Kemper East.

Hours and Admission

The Museum (4420 Warwick Blvd.) is open 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m., Tuesday–Thursday; 10:00 a.m.–9:00 p.m., Friday–Saturday; and 11:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m., Sunday. Café Sebastienne serves lunch 11:00 a.m.–2:30 p.m., Tuesday–Sunday; and dinner 5:30–9:00 p.m., Friday–Saturday. The Museum and Café are closed on Mondays and major holidays. Admission is free.

Kemper at the Crossroads (33 West 19th Street) is open noon–8:00 p.m., Friday (open until 10:00 p.m. on First Fridays) and noon–6:00 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free.

The galleries of Kemper East (200 E. 44th Street) are open 10:00 a.m.–4 p.m., Tuesday–Friday. Admission is free.

For more general information about the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, visit



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