Treasures from the Vault: Patrick Nerad

Lauren Wolfer, Associate Curator of Special Collections & Archives

With the end drawing near of our year long A Century of Making Meaning: 100 Years of Collecting at FWMoA, and the opening of the 2022 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, let’s take a look at Wedding, created by a former FWMoA technician and Bryan High School alum, Patrick Nerad.

A photograph of the artist, Patrick sits in a chair beneath a tree, his right hand resting on his face and his left hand at his side. He looks straight into camera and, in the background, is a yard surrounded by a fence.
Patrick Nerad.

Nerad, who served as Assistant Curator, Preparator, and Technical Assistant with FWMoA from 1981-1987, spent most of his career as an educator. Graduating from Bryan High School in 1970, he went on to obtain a Fine Arts degree from Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne in 1977, a Bachelor of Science in Education from Bowling Green State University in 1993, and completed graduate level studies at Indiana Wesleyan University in 2006. Awarded an international studies grant, he taught at Our Lady of Mercy American School in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil in 1993 before returning back to the states to teach in Texas and at Memorial Park and Snider High School in Fort Wayne. Following his return to the Fort, he then went on to teach in both South Carolina and North Carolina, his career eventually spanning from 1994-2012.

An oil on canvas abstraction of two figures, facing each other. Their arms appear wrapped around each other. The background is a faded blue, and greens, reds, purples, blues, and oranges are patterned to create the abstract human forms.
Patrick Nerad, American, 1952-2015. Wedding. Oil on canvas, 1979. Gift of the Fort Wayne Museum of Art Alliance and Gamma Lamba Chapter, Kappa Kappa Kappa, Inc., 1980.12. Image courtesy of FWMoA.

Wedding, an oil painting on canvas, was purchased as a part of the Tri-Kappa Regional Artist Exhibition in 1980, in which Nerad won second prize in a purchase award. Founded in 1901, Tri-Kappa was always a supporter of the arts; they founded the Hoosier Salon and pledged funds for prize awards. The Art School in the West Central was thriving, and the Tri-Kappa exhibition was a big deal for regional artists; a call-for-entry exhibition, meaning artists submit work and a juror(s) select the best to display, any artist could enter. The juror was a prestigious, high caliber member of the art world, elevating the competition and making the selected work, and artist, more respected. Michael Danoff, Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, was a regular among the jurors. Dr. Joshua C. Taylor, Director of the National Collection of Fine Arts, who commissioned a report assessing the needs and future of the FWMoA, said of the regional exhibition: “…one learns a great deal from those works produced out of the same environment in which one lives.” It was a high honor to have work accepted into the exhibition, and fellow artists in the community were championed by their peers. Along with Nerad, other locals like Louis Bonsib, Dixie Landis Bradley, Norm Bradley, Clyde Burt, Art Cislo, George McCullough, Russel Oettel, and Maurice Papier were selected regularly.

In Wedding we see two figures, either sitting or standing, next to each other. Based on the title, it should be a joyous day! Not for these two, however; maybe an angry mother-in-law was involved, because they do not look like they are enjoying themselves. The work is reminiscent of posed, historic photographic portraits that are often serious or stoic. At least the woman looks fabulous with her long, voluminous lashes! Painted in a Picasso-like style, the figures are broken into exaggerated shapes, there is still enough detail to decipher their faces and emotions (or lack thereof). Nerad created texture within the image with both dots and the paint itself, laying it down thickly. Working in a subtractive manner, meaning Nerad took away to achieve his imagery, he scraped lines out around the shapes to make the distinctive figures. Distinguishable from the arms up, below the couple is a beautiful pattern of colors and shapes that unify the two. They’re painted with circular, round lines, which aid in leading your eyes around the canvas. Although the colors are muted, there’s a lot of them: orange, blue, purple, red, white, and green! Despite this, it is not overwhelming or controlling; it feels peaceful and calm.

Compare and contrast Nerad’s work with your own or a family member’s wedding portrait! How was that day captured compared to this couple?

Check out a Century of Making Meaning open until the end of this week and see our annual 2022 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards exhibit open through April 9th, 2022

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