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When Chester County artist Tom Bostelle died in 2005, he left an imprint on the local and national art world much like one of his shadow works: enigmatic, bold, ambiguous, avant garde.
A visionary who saw the world in the unique shapes of shadows, Bostelle "was a friend of the University and art department for more than 20 years," notes John Baker, art department chair. "He exhibited in the McKinney Gallery [in Mitchell Hall], was a guest lecturer and a generous donor of his paintings and sculptures. Tom cherished his talks with our students about his work and his life as an artist."
Bostelle not only was a guest artist on campus. In 1997, he also invited a group of students to his studio to choose several works intended to be hung in Sykes Student Union. Among them is "The Game," which reflects what appears to be a game of basketball, captured in gangly, shadow-like figures and outstretched arms. A broad sample of Bostelle's art from 1942 to 2000 is on display in the 55 works that comprise Tom Bostelle: A Retrospective.
"The exhibition has been a valuable teaching tool for all our students," Baker says. "The opportunity to view Tom's life through his art provides a unique insight seldom shared by artists with viewers. We are honored to have this body of work."
The University is also proud to count about 20 of Bostelle's works in the Permanent Art Collection. They are located in Schmucker Science Center, Sykes Student Union, E.O. Bull Center for the Arts, Swope Music Building and Tanglewood (the President's residence).
Bostelle's student, the late artist Tania Boucher, described Bostelle's work in the introduction to her 1973 book about him: "...There is a quality about them, which defies description but impresses very strikingly the notion that these shadows, along with their creator, lived in a world of ideas. Bostelle's teaching, as well, bore out this notion, for while he was generous in sharing his procedures with others, it was his ability to project ideas about painting and all the arts, which characterized his superiority as a teacher."
The exhibit in the E.O. Bull Center for the Arts Gallery continues until Oct. 19. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays and Saturday noon to 4 p.m.
Visit the Department of Art's website.