Arthur Berry, local artist and retired head of the ASU art department, is honored by a new book of 50 of his past paintings. The book, “Arthur Berry: A Lifetime of Painting,” is available at a special signing at the Albany Museum of Art Friday from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m.
ALBANY -- Arthur Berry, a long-time local artist and educator, will be honored Friday for a lifetime of work by the Albany Museum of Art, according to museum Executive Director Nick Nelson.
During the special reception at the museum, the artist will be on hand to sign the newly published book, "Arthur Berry: A Lifetime of Painting." The book includes a retrospective of 50 technically superb color reproductions of Berry's work from throughout his career.
The publication includes forwards by his sons, Keith and Kevin Berry, as well as an introduction by Stephen Schatz, a close friend and fellow artist who compiled the images for the book.
Nelson said copies of the book will be available for purchase for $70 at the museum from 6 p.m.-8 p.m. on Friday.
Berry attended Fisk University in Nashville, and completed graduate studies at Columbia University in New York City. He is currently Professor Emeritus at ASU, where he founded that school's art department and served as its chair from 1967 to 1988. Berry continues to reside in Albany with his wife, Sylvia, where both remain active in the arts locally, regionally and beyond.
Schatz describes his first impression of Berry as "a man full of curiosity and intelligence with a great respect for others." While Berry's intelligence and mental sharpness -- even at age 89 -- are certainly clear, it's his energy and curiosity that are first to impress many who know him. Berry's front and back lawns teem with paintings, drawings and eclectic sculptures of every kind.
In a corner of Berry's backyard stands a deeply textured chunk of wood some 2-by-3 feet. Three years ago it had been a cube, Berry said, until three years of "weathering" rendered it worthy of modification and adjoining to a second, finished piece of wood.
Also among Berry's artworks are a ball of coat hangers, spray painted and mounted atop a pedestal; an almost perfect box, formed from smaller squares of wire. An impression could be taken that Berry likes to work with his hands in the way of an auto mechanic -- except the artist doesn't care if his works start or run.
"When I was little, I told my daddy I wanted to make things," Berry said.
Berry's paintings are as different in style and form as they are dynamic. The artist, whose urge to create appears insatiable, refuses to restrict himself to a particular style or technique, producing abstractions as freely and quickly as his more traditional pieces.
"Sometimes I start with just a little sketch or a doodle and see where it goes," Berry said. "Or maybe that day I want to paint something in one or two particular colors and I start that way."
According to museum officials, while a number of books will be available for sale at the signing event, there may not be enough to supply all requests. However, additional books may be ordered, either at the event or by calling the museum at (229) 439-8400.