WMU Art Collection celebrates 100 years with major fall exhibition

Contact: Tanya Bakija
original artwork from "The Amazing Spider-Man, Volume 1" (1972)

Original artwork from "The Amazing Spider-Man, Volume 1" (1972)

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Approximately 82 works from artists around the world, including Andy Warhol and Robert Rauschenberg, will be featured in the 100th anniversary exhibition of the Western Michigan University Art Collection through Nov. 19 at the Richmond Center for Visual Arts.

This commemorative exhibition, "We've Only Just Begun: Celebrating a Century of Collecting Art at Western Michigan University," is free and open to the public. It brings together a range of media from diverse geographic areas, time periods and styles, according to Indra K. Lācis, Ph.D., curator and director of exhibitions.

Created to enrich learning and work environments throughout campus, the exhibit highlights major artistic movements while also tracing the University’s collecting patterns and the development of the niche position of the University museum and gallery within the art-world ecosystem.

The exhibition includes examples of American Impressionism, European Neoclassicism and Romanticism, Japanese and Chinese ceramics, Art of Asian and African origin, 20th-century Modernism, as well as Pop art and a range of painting and printmaking after World War II.

"Martin Luther King" (1966) by Reggie Gammon

"Martin Luther King" (1986) by Reggie Gammon

Notable artworks on view include original artwork from "The Amazing Spider-Man, Volume 1" (1972), edited by Stan Lee; "Martin Luther King" (1986) by Reggie Gammon, a painting inspired by a speech Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave at WMU in 1963; "Booster" (1967) by Robert Rauschenberg; and "Portraits of the Artists" (1967) by Andy Warhol, featuring the faces of 12 influential artists of the era.

 Origins of the WMU Art Collection

In 1922, Western's President Dwight B. Waldo announced Albert May Todd would donate valuable books and prized paintings to decorate North Hall's library and reading room. This gift marked the beginning of the WMU Art Collection and set in motion the idea of "art for all."Known regionally and beyond as "The Peppermint King of Kalamazoo," Todd would frequently open his personal galleries at the A.M. Todd building (known as the “Todd Block"), at the corner of Rose and Kalamazoo streets, to the entire Kalamazoo community.

Renowned at the time and cherished likewise today, Todd's art collection forms the nexus of the WMU Art Collection. Following the initial gift, the collection has grown exponentially through generous donations and select purchases.

For more WMU news, arts and events, visit WMU News online.