Gallery to display works by famed abstract artist Keith Crown

Thursday, February 5, 2009 | 5:45 p.m. CST; updated 6:15 p.m. CST, Thursday, February 5, 2009

COLUMBIA — Starting Friday, the Main Gallery of the State Historical Society of Missouri will showcase the vibrant works of Keith Crown of Columbia, a nationally acclaimed watercolorist known largely for his abstract landscapes.

In light of Crown's approaching 91st birthday, the State Historical Society has gathered many of the artist's works, which span a lifetime.

“We are showing things from back in 1939 to 2002," said the society's Joan Stack. "It is a comprehensive view of his career.”

The exhibit, “Keith Crown: A Retrospective,” includes works from the State Historical Society’s collection, Crown’s personal holdings and others owned by private collectors.

“It is interesting to see the early paintings and see how his color changes," Stack said. "It is interesting to see his development and to see his classic style.”

Crown graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, served in the U.S. Army during World War II and taught art at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. He has traveled the world painting various landscapes, bringing a different technique to watercolor.

Crown’s colors pop; they are uber-color, ultra-rich. He uses various means to apply that color, including brushes and nails, and he also has used a tool that distinguished his art from the rest — an air brush.

Crown’s unique style has been an influence on many artists across the country.

For the past 25 years, Crown and his wife, Patricia, a retired MU art history professor, have made their home in Columbia. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Watercolor USA Honor Society in 2003 and has achieved many other honors throughout his life.

The exhibit will continue until the end of May, a few weeks before Crown’s 91st birthday. The gallery is hosting a roundtable event on May 2 in which Patricia Crown and some of Keith Crown’s students and friends will answer questions about his art and technique.

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