Kirk Newman Art School Rededication at March 6 Art Hop

Posted: February 18, 2015

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Kalamazoo's March 6 Art Hop will include an open house at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts spotlighting the Kirk Newman Art School.

Free admission will be in effect 5 - 8 pm, and the evening will include artists' demonstrations, school tours, and a gallery activity. At 6:30 pm, guests will gather in the auditorium for a rededication of the school, announcement of a major gift, and remarks by Kirk Newman and others.

Inspired by Newman's dedication to the arts and learning, Rosemary and John Brown have donated a major financial gift for the school. The long-time arts supporters will attend the event, and Mrs. Brown will share her thoughts about why the school is important to Southwest Michigan. Also sharing the stage will be KIA Board President Jim Carter, Art School Director Denise Lisiecki, Kirk Newman, and KIA Executive Director Belinda Tate.

"We couldn't be more grateful for a gift directed in a way that allows us to greatly expand our scholarship offerings and extend our reach to art students of all types," says Lisiecki, adding that details about the expansion of the school's scholarship program will be shared that evening.

The Kirk Newman Art School offers four terms of classes throughout the year for upwards pf 3,000 adults and children. More than 75 professional artists teach 300+ classes in university-quality studios. The mediums offered include ceramics, digital media, drawing, fiber, glass, jewelry, painting, photography, printmaking, and sculpture.

"From the beginning, the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts has been about enjoying and learning to create art," says Tate. "Over its 90 years, the setting may have changed or moved, but always the mounting of exhibitions and the teaching of art have been intertwined, with the goal to both interest people in art and empower them to express themselves through art."

Newman first came to Kalamazoo in 1949 as an instructor with the Extension Division of the University of Michigan School of Architecture and Design. He became the school's first full-time instructor and presided over the school's expansion and new building, opened in 1961 with funds from Donald and Genevieve Gilmore. He was director of the art school from 1961-78.

"In my opinion, Kirk molded it into a true art school," says Lisiecki.

"Kirk is a visionary arts leader who helped bring us to where we are today," says Tate, adding, "Our museum and school are essential to each other, and to the community. This kind of resource, this jewel, is unique within the nation's cultural landscape. You will not find a place as special as the KIA anywhere."

Newman created two of Kalamazoo's signature landmarks: When Justice and Mercy Prevail, Children May Safely Play, in Bronson Park, and People, which greets visitors at the South Street entrance of the KIA. Several pieces by Newman will be on display during the evening.

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