From soothing streams in central Ohio and sea spray off waves breaking in the Galapagos Islands, to unflinching images that capture the horror of the Holocaust, Marty Kalb’s paintings and drawings expertly depict both the tranquil and the tumultuous.
The Delaware resident and retired Ohio Wesleyan University professor will exhibit a carefully selected collection of his lifetime’s work in his upcoming “Marty Kalb Retrospective,” which will be on display from Aug. 18 to Oct. 8 at the university’s Richard M. Ross Art Museum, 60 S. Sandusky St.
Kalb’s artistic career began with what colleagues have called a “fervent interest in figurative painting,” creating works featuring “a strong representational figural element with an experimental abstract expressionist background.”
Next, Kalb began to create mixed-media pieces that combined aluminum beams and canvas. Over time, he eliminated the beams but continued to use strong lines in his abstract creations to command the attention of viewers.
Travels with his family and his interest in providing unique information to his students also influenced the artist. Kalb took photographs for the slide library of OWU’s Department of Fine Arts and started creating both realistic and abstract landscapes to capture the essence of the places he visited. These included, among many others, Monet’s gardens at Giverny, France, and sites in the Eastern United States that influenced the Hudson River School of 19th century American artists.
The artwork resulting from his research was a 10-year series of abstract works that Kalb called “Land & Sky.” His recent work continues to be influenced by trips to the Caribbean, Greece, and Asia. This body of work explores his interest in realistically depicting the contrast between force and serenity experienced when viewing waterfalls and ocean waves.
Kalb’s work turned from the sublime to the serious when he began to depict images of the Holocaust in his art, forcing viewers to remember the mass murders of more than 6 million European Jews and others under Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime.
Of his powerful “Holocaust Series,” Kalb states: “Art cannot successfully compete with political power. It can however act as a moral compass, and it does create an expressive, emotional record of a culture’s social and political attitudes. … If we are ever to have a more humane society, people must finally and fully accept the truth that prejudice and militarism result in gore not glory. Each of us can, in some way, make a contribution toward decreasing prejudice in our communities and in some cases the world at large. As an artist and teacher, I use my work to play a small part in that quest.”
Kalb taught painting, drawing, and modern art history at Ohio Wesleyan from 1967 to 2007. During that time, he was honored with the university’s Daniel E. Anderson Campus and Community Conscience Award in 2004 and the Bishop Herbert Welch Meritorious Teaching Award in 2007. His artwork is represented in numerous major museums in the United States and abroad.
Learn more about Kalb and see examples of his artwork at www.martykalb.com. Learn more about Ohio Wesleyan’s Department of Fine Arts at www.owu.edu/finearts.
During the academic year, the Ross Art Museum is open Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. The museum is handicap-accessible and admission is always free. For information, call 740-368-3606 or visit www.owu.edu/ross.