“Consider his sale of a nude to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, his induction into the National Academy of Design, his winning the national Distinguished Teaching of Art Award -- there's more than enough evidence to prove his relevance.” So stated Michael Humphrey, writing in an article, Compulsion to Paint, in the Kansas City Star Magazine, December 17, 2006.
Critics and colleagues have been unanimous in their respect for Niewald’s work ethic which has led him to paint for six hours a day, well past retirement from teaching. His favored subjects of Kansas City scenes or studio still life set-ups are worked on until he perfects, on a two dimensional surface, the visual qualities he experienced when he chose the precise angle from which to paint or to make his prints.
Since childhood, when he took art lessons at the Nelson Art Gallery and Kansas City Art Institute, his Kansas City, Missouri home grounded him to its rolling hills and large spaces. Although he experimented with modern, abstract forms during early years, what he gained from that experience was a sense of space and seeking for structure that he carried forward into his later decision to “paint what I see”. One critic said of his structure, “Niewald typically takes great care in arranging his still life elements, effectively composing his motif. For all his emphasis on observation, the resulting compositions evince a classical order and balance. This also is a function of the way Niewald uses paint as a stabilizing agent. Looking at a Niewald composition, we know his apples and onions aren't going to be doing any rolling around; they are virtually sculpted into place with paint.”
Wilbur Niewald graduated from the Kansas City Art Institute and became chairman of its Painting and Printmaking Department, teaching there for 43 years. He exhibited his work widely and, after retirement, has continued to exhibit new work, even being honored with retrospective exhibitions covering his long professional art career.
Still Life with Geranium
Image size 6 x 8 1/8
Framed Size 15 x 18