Kirksville Arts Center to Host First Retrospective of Bernard Perlin's War Work
Michael Schreiber 773-848-3255 firstname.lastname@example.org
Wayne Yanda 319-481-7038 email@example.com
Bernard Perlin: An Artist Goes to War Will Feature Propaganda Posters, Plus Paintings, Sketches, and Drawings From Perlin’s Time as a World War II Artist-Correspondent
Exhibit Contingent on Kickstarter Fundraising Campaign
Kirksville, MO (June 26, 2013) – Have you heard the one about the two amateur curators who put together a major retrospective exhibit?
A series of fortuitous events find Michael Schreiber and Wayne Yanda co-curating an exhibit of war art by American painter and illustrator Bernard Perlin.
Both discovered Perlin on their own. Schreiber purchased a Perlin drawing at an auction, Yanda through research of a 1940 art competition Perlin entered. During a phone call, Perlin suggested Yanda get in touch with Schreiber to “fill in any gaps.” After a series of emails, they finally spoke. At the end of that conversation, they began working on the idea of an exhibit, and a few months later, Bernard Perlin: An Artist Goes to War was born.
The exhibit, opening October 18, is the first ever retrospective of Perlin's war art, and is timed to coincide with the artist's 95th birthday in November. The curators’ aim is to bring about a reevaluation of Bernard Perlin's work and its place in American art. In addition to original paintings and drawings that appeared in Life and Fortune magazines during the war, the exhibit will contain propaganda posters Perlin created for the Office of War Information, photographs and other historical documents, plus never-before-seen sketches and drawings.
Schreiber lives in Chicago, Yanda in rural Eastern Iowa. So why debut this exhibit in, of all places, Kirksville, Missouri?
“Frankly, Michael had a show, and I thought I had access to the proverbial ‘barn.’ And like the plot of some sappy ‘50s musical, there you go,” Yanda said.
The “barn” in this case is the Kirksville Arts Center. A former board member of the Kirksville Arts Association, which owns and operates the Kirksville Arts Center, Yanda believed he could get the exhibit on their calendar. “Any arts organization, large or small, should take on projects outside their comfort zone, especially when they have an opportunity to show their audience something they’ve not seen before. Fortunately, Kirksville Arts enjoys the occasional challenge.”
Even more challenging is Schreiber and Yanda have yet to meet in person. All brainstorming and organizing is happening via email and phone, pulling ideas from every museum and exhibit they’ve ever seen.
“It’s an unconventional approach to organizing such a show,” concedes Schreiber, “But then, we’re not conventional curators.”
However, it’s not quite a done deal. An all-or-nothing Kickstarter fundraising campaign has been launched and will end August 3. While the goal is quite modest for something labelled “a major retrospective,” being completely dependent upon donors from and outside the exhibit area is a roll of the dice. But it’s a chance Schreiber and Yanda are willing to take.
“Once people see Perlin’s amazing work and hear the stories behind it, they’ll understand why we were so compelled to do this show,” said Schreiber.
ABOUT BERNARD PERLIN Bernard Perlin is an American artist, born in Richmond, Virginia in 1918. His first one-man exhibition was at Knoedler’s in 1948. He is associated with “Magic Realists,” a term coined by James Thrall Soby in the late 1940s, and a frequent illustrator for popular magazines through the 1960s. Actively showing until he retired in 1970, Perlin lives in Connecticut where he continues to paint, but at his leisure. Currently at the Tate Modern, London, Perlin’s 1948 painting Orthodox Boys was named in The (London) Observer by eminent painter Sir Peter Blake as one of the ten best paintings of all time.
Perlin’s works are in the collections of the Smithsonian Institution, the National Portrait Gallery, the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Tate Modern, London. During World War II, Perlin designed popular propaganda posters for the American war effort before becoming an artist-correspondent for Life and Fortune magazines. His assignments took him to Egypt, Palestine, Greece, and the South Pacific, culminating in his presence aboard the USS Missouri to witness the formal Japanese surrender in September 1945. Perlin remained in Asia to document postwar conditions in Tokyo and Shanghai.
To learn more about Bernard Perlin, visit www.bernardperlin.com.
ABOUT THE CURATORS Michael Schreiber is a special education teacher and developmental therapist living in Chicago, with degrees from Minnesota State University and New York University. He also studied at Oxford University in the United Kingdom. After many visits to Perlin in Connecticut and weekly phone conversations, Michael began to put together a book on the art of Bernard Perlin – a project which after two years is now nearing its completion. He has also collaborated with Perlin’s family in launching a website devoted to his art; and has been a consultant on some magazine pieces about Perlin’s art and a few museum exhibits that have included Perlin pieces.
Wayne Yanda, a graduate of Truman State University, is a freelance graphic designer and photographer living in Eastern Iowa. Yanda discovered Perlin through ongoing research for a book on contemporary art onboard American passenger ships. His work can be found at www.grafischewerken.blogspot.com.
ABOUT THE KIRKSVILLE ARTS CENTER The Kirksville Arts Center is a multi-purpose facility, home to the Kirksville Arts Association, and located in downtown Kirksville, Missouri. To learn more, visit www.kirksvillearts.com.
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