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Sam Stetson

“HANDWRITTEN AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL NOTES BY SAM STETSON-DATE UNKNOWN”
(These notes were transcribed verbatim by the art dealer from whom Joanne Winchester bought one of Stetson’s abstract painting)

Born Louisville, Kentucky. Educated in public schools and then on to Chicago at the early age of l5 for study at the Chicago Art Institute, which was a follow up to several years of painting, the urge for which started at a very early age.

Local Louisville artist even at that early age helped to orient the protégée in serious academic painting. By the time arrived at Chicago was already quite advanced and skipped through the courses there in two years. This led to interest by several Chicago people who encouraged further study and were very helpful financially. There ensued many years of study, both here and abroad, covering France, Germany, Italy, and afterwards came under the guidance of American artist teachers in Cincinnati, Philadelphia, New York, and California. Andre L. Hote…….Paris Leger …… Paris Hans Hoffman……California Hans Hoffman …..New York David Karfunkel … New York – Portraiture Bauhaus ………… 3 separate seasons

Painting (???) continually and supporting himself in the lean years as a poster designer, breaking the routine periodically to dash off to study with either one of the above painters or to seek out a new one and absorb what he had to offer if only for a short period.

Intensely interested in the euphatic regions of the artist involvement with conceptual painting went about furthering general education to include much interest in the word of music, literature, and the processes of learning.

Started teaching at the age of l8 because of a great need for human involvement and an intense desire to pass on gained knowledge and the teachables of art. With the exception of a few years interruption has been teaching ever since.

(photo copyright 2002 Joanne Winchester)

Completely involved in both the intellectual and plastic phases of modern, contemporary thinking in painting. Has devoted years to the constant experimentation and development of a personal idiom, or at least, an intense search for such an idiom.

Nearly forty years of painting has resulted in countless shows, both here in America and Europe, as well as Mexico. Represented in hundreds of group shows and anywhere else that a painting could be shown, always reluctant to seek the limelight has had to be constantly, nevertheless pushed on by colleagues who make up his staunchest supporters and these painters are the only ones whose opinions and critiques that have ever had any meaning or guiding influence in what or how to paint.

Through the last 25 or 30 years, painters serious in their devotion to the art have been very close. Many of these have done the unusual, in bringing the work to the attention of collectors, dealers, and their personal acquaintances, resulting in sale of an unusual number of paintings. Always preoccupied with the work with very little regard for the sale of it, has left the exploitations strictly to others.

Although reluctant to self-exploitation, has a tireless energy in teaching and in public speaking on the subject, especially to students and serious art-involved people. The following statements by three of America’s deans of contemporary painting testify to their belief in the work.

These statements date from l961-62 and the present exhibition.
“Sam Stetson understands the contemporary idiom…poetic abstract expressionist paintings integrated with virile color, design and personal concept….” – Earl Kerkam (1961)

“Sam Stetson’s work reflects the concept of contemporary painting in its finest expression. In his personal approach to form, space and color, he has proven himself to be an outstanding painter in the abstract expressionist school.” – Max Schnitzler (l961)

“This exhibition of Sam Stetson should be a most provocative one. Although I know Mr. Stetson’s painting very well, I have never seen a comprehensive exhibition of it as this one is. His approach to art is that indeed of the artist-his spirit, his knowledge, his complete involvement with art and his need to speak his piece, equip him ideally for the work he has chosen to devote his life to. I find it difficult and futile to talk about color, structure, organization, ideas-when I talk about painting, it is always the spirit, the unmeasurables, the mystique, that intrigue me-if I can, of course, take the technical proficiency for granted. Sam Stetson has the constitution of the artist and he can most certainly handle paint, and so I can afford the luxury here to consider his spirit, his knowledge, his will-and leave the rest to the viewer. His work will speak for itself.” – Samuel M. Adler (Professor Painting Department of Fine Arts, New York University, Sept. 30, 1969)