Cleveland-based husband and wife artists Barbara and Julian Stanczak have influenced multiple generations of young, aspiring artists in their roles as professional artists and longtime faculty at Cleveland Institute of Art, but their influence extends far beyond Northeast Ohio. Their paths to this moment have been as interesting as the work on display at Bonfoey beginning this weekend in Color & Form.
“We are honored to present the work of both Barbara and Julian,” says Marcia Hall, Director of the Bonfoey Gallery. “Both Barbara & Julian have had an enormous influence on numerous students at the Cleveland Institute of Art. It is rare that a married couple can be successful in their own right and their love of their disciplines is evident. We are very pleased to have the opportunity to show their works together for the first time.”
Barbara Stanczak was born in Hamm, Germany in 1941. Before coming to the United States, she apprenticed as a mural painter and studied at the School of Arts and Crafts in Münster. Upon moving to the United States, she painted church frescos and enrolled at the Art Academy of Cincinnati, majoring in painting and printmaking and minoring in sculpture and graphic design. Stanczak would later go on to earn her BFA and MA in Art Education and Art History from Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA). She returned to CIA to teach two- and three-dimensional design classes for more than 35 years.
After exploring a diverse variety of media, Barbara Stanczak has focused on carving in wood and stone for the past three decades. Her sculptures reside in many public and private collections, such as the Cleveland Clinic, the Butler Museum of American Art and the Housatonic Museum of Art. She received the Viktor Schreckengost Teaching Award from CIA and the Judson Smart Living Award for her contribution to excellence in education. Her artwork has been showcased in many solo and group exhibitions, including Barbara Stanczak: Intuitive Parallels at the Butler Museum of American Art and Director’s Choice at the Canton Museum of Art.
Julian Stanczak was born in Borownica, Poland in 1928. During World War II, Stanczak’s family was imprisoned in a Siberian labor camp. During his imprisonment, he lost the use of his right arm. With a great deal of determination, he learned to write and paint with his left hand after fleeing to a refugee camp in Uganda. Fascinated by his new environment, he began recording his surroundings with drawings and watercolors. After spending seven years in Africa, Stanczak attended the Borough Polytechnic Institute in London.
The young artist and his family immigrated to America in 1950, and settled in Cleveland, where he attended the Cleveland Institute of Art, before officially becoming a U.S. citizen in 1956. Julian Stanczak earned his MFA from Yale University, under the tutelage of Josef Albers and Conrad Marca Relli. Julian and Barbara married in 1963, and they have two children. After teaching in Cincinnati for seven years, he returned to Cleveland in 1964 to teach as professor of painting at the Cleveland Institute of Art – a position he held until 1995.
Critically acclaimed as a pioneer of the Op Art movement, Julian Stanczak originally received the Cleveland Arts Prize for Visual Arts in 1969. Earlier in 2015, he was recognized once again as a Special Honoree by the Cleveland Arts Prize. His work is represented both nationally and internationally by the Mitchell-Innes & Nash Gallery in New York. His work resides in the permanent collections of nearly 100 museums, including the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Art in Boston, the Smithsonian, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, as well as the Museum of Modern Art in both San Francisco and New York City. His painting career has spanned more than 60 years.
Color & Form opens with a reception from 5 to 8 p.m. this Friday, Nov. 6. The gallery will host a conversation with the Stanczaks at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 5. The exhibition remains on view through Jan. 2. The exhibition and all related events are free and open to the public. At more than 120 years old, the Bonfoey Gallery is the only art gallery in town that predates the Cleveland Museum of Art.
(Bonfoey Gallery) 1710 Euclid Ave., 216-621-0178, bonfoey.com