ROCK HILL, S.C. - When Edmund Lewandowski (1914-1998) painted, he wanted to illustrate the beauty and energy of American industrialism. Now a retrospective opening Sept. 6 at Winthrop University Galleries will explore the prominent painter’s reflections on industry and man-made objects as well as his lasting influence on the Rock Hill community and the art world.
Organized by the Flint Institute of Arts in Flint, Mich., “Edmund Lewandowski – Precisionism and Beyond,” a traveling exhibition, will open Sept. 6 in Rutledge and Patrick Galleries. The exhibit, guest curated by Dr. Valerie Leeds, the Flint Institute’s adjunct curator of American art, includes approximately 45 works on loan from private collections, museums and galleries across the U.S.
The Galleries will host a free, public opening reception on Friday, Sept. 10, from 6:30-8 p.m. in Rutledge and Patrick Galleries. As part of this retrospective, "Artifacts of Edmund Lewandowski from the Winthrop University Collection," an exhibition of items and artifacts donated by Lewandowski and his wife Dolores, will run in the Lewandowski Student Gallery from Sept. 6-30. These items are part of Winthrop's permanent collection.
In Rock Hill, Lewandowski was known as a prominent artist, activist and mentor. He served as chair of Winthrop’s Department of Art and Design from 1973-84. The artist, born in 1914, grew up in the industrial environment of Milwaukee, Wis., and his surroundings had a profound impact on his artistic development. Lewandowski became a standout in the Precisionist movement, an American painting style that depicted industrial scenes and architectural motifs, void of human figures as subjects, in a near-abstract manner.
Lewandowski’s artistic influence also extended beyond Precisionism. He built a reputation as a major mosaic artist, helping create the well-known public War Memorial in Milwaukee. Lewandowski’s mural work has been recognized nationally since the 1930s; he collaborated with the Works Progress Administration during the Great Depression and created murals across the Midwest.
“Edmund Lewandowski – Precisionism and Beyond” marks the first-ever retrospective of the artist’s work in a fitting location, since Lewandowski’s legacy at Winthrop continues today, said Tom Stanley, chair of the Department of Fine Arts and director of Winthrop University Galleries.
“In his years at Winthrop, Ed brought a professional attitude to the Department of Art and Design and made ours the program of choice in the region,” said Stanley. “Within the community he also established the ideal of the citizen artist for us to follow. He made a significant visual difference in Rock Hill and at Winthrop.”
Exploration of Lewandowski’s influential career will be the primary focus of two art lectures in October and November, also part of the retrospective. On Thursday, Oct. 21, Tony Rajer, art conservator and instructor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, will give an 8 p.m. talk in Rutledge 119 titled “Ed Lewandowski: Restoring His Art and Legacy: A Personal View of a Great American Artist.” Rajer also will host a three-day workshop, "The Business of Art Workshop," Oct. 22-24. Participation is limited, so early registration is encouraged. The cost is $125 for three days and $50 with student I.D. Call 803/323-2493 to register.
Show curator Leeds will speak on “Art and Industry: The Career of Edmund Lewandowski” on Thursday, Nov. 18, at 8 p.m. in Rutledge Gallery. Both talks are approved cultural events for students.
The exhibition will continue through Dec. 9. The galleries will offer special weekend hours during the retrospective, with “Precisionism and Beyond” available for viewing noon-4 p.m. on Sept. 18-19, Nov. 6-7 and Nov. 13-14. Regular gallery hours are Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., and galleries will be closed Oct. 15-18, Nov. 2 and Nov. 25-26.
“Edmund Lewandowski – Precisionism and Beyond” has been made possible in part by Williams and Fudge, Inc., Rock Hill and other donors.
For more information about the exhibition, contact Karen Derksen, assistant gallery director, at 803/323-2493 or email@example.com.