Ned Wert Artworks

An exhibit featuring the works of Ned Wert, artist, mentor and educator, is on display through March 20, 2021, at University Museum, first floor of Sutton Hall, Indiana University of Pennsylvania campus.

An artist’s lifetime of work is being highlighted in this exhibition.

“Ned Wert: A Retrospective” is on display through March 20 at the University Museum, first floor of Sutton Hall, on Indiana University of Pennsylvania campus, and features paintings by Net Wert, IUP professor emeritus.

The exhibition represents Wert’s six-decade career as an artist, mentor and educator. 

“Ned Wert is local to Indiana County,” said James Rickard, exhibit coordinator.

“He lives in Brush Valley, and he has been an artist for around 60 years. Some of the work dates back to the 1960s and all the way through to the recent.

“He was an art educator and worked at IUP for a number of years as an art professor. The show is a retrospective, and it’s something that showcases his entire body of work,” he said.

The exhibit includes close to 100 pieces of Wert’s art.

“There’s watercolor and collage and some of it is realistic and some of it is more abstract, so it has a whole wide breadth of things that he has created,” Rickard said.

“They vary in size, with some being small enough to hang in a very small apartment and some are huge and need a large wall to display them properly.”

Wert said his paintings all begin by manipulating a realistic idea. He bases his work on his own sketches and photographs. 

“These realistic images can be landscapes, single or groups of figures, architecture and still lifes,” he said.

“Almost anything can become the beginning structure of a composition. It is the final surface of an abstract painting that becomes art, based on the ‘artistic germ’ that motivated the artist to begin.”

Wert described the process as “actively gestural and colorful.”

Rickard said Wert’s paintings are organic and he used bright colors, making the pieces a vivid viewing experience.

“There’s turquoises, bright reds and pinks, maroons and oranges with some lights and darks,” he said.

“It’s definitely something that you’ll want to stop and look at each piece because of the bright colors that catch your eye, but also because each one is unique, so you could stop and look at it for five to 10 minutes.”

Rickard said the more recent pieces are all abstract, but viewers will be able to see the evolution of Wert’s work as they walk through the exhibit.

“There’s landscapes to more symbolistic landscapes to patterns with some woven canvases to absolute abstract,” he said.

“The colors evolved as well. In the start of his work, it was more of a muted palette and neutrals, and as he made his way into the woven pieces, the colors became more intense and then abstracts are super vivid and very eye-catching and bright.”

The exhibit also features a video interview with Wert that’s interspersed with pieces featured in show.

“We had a local videographer come in and he was able to shoot many of the pieces and get various shots throughout the museum to exhibit the show as a whole,” Rickard said.

“He put that together with music and went to Ned Wert’s studio and was able to interview him.”

The video can be watched on the University Museum’s Facebook page and YouTube channel.

Paintings in the exhibit are from Wert’s personal collection and the University Museum’s permanent collection in addition to others on loan from private collections.

Rickard said for this show, the pieces were hung in a way that’s aesthetically pleasing.

“We want to have a general flow through the museum,” he said.

“We want to attract the viewer’s eye and we think what will make the show look better as you’re walking and making your way through the museum.”

Rickard said viewers to the exhibition will hopefully gain a better understanding of Wert’s formative years as well as later.

“They’ll see how the process of painting evolved over the years,” he said.

“You can almost kind of see his thought processes.

“I think people will be mesmerized specifically by the more recent pieces just by seeing the bright and exciting colors.”

Many of the pieces are for sale and will be available following the exhibition. 

To celebrate the exhibit, an artist’s reception will be held from 2 to 5 p.m. March 20 at the museum.

Wert will be on hand to discuss his work and answer questions.

“This is a chance for people to meet the artist and hear the artist talk,” Rickard said.

“People, including former students and art enthusiasts, will have a chance to interact with the artist and talk with him. Ned is an interesting person and he has great stories to share about his art.”

There is no fee to attend. 

The exhibit is supported in part by the Student Cooperative Association at IUP.

Those attending are asked to wear masks, and hand sanitizer stations will be available at museum entrances.

The exhibit was designed and installed to help promote social distancing.

Gallery hours are 2 to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and 2 to 5 p.m. March 6, 13 and 20.

There is no fee to view the exhibition.

For more information, call 724-357-2530 or email museum-info@iup.edu.

Kelly Urban is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. She can be reached at (814) 532-5073. Follow her on Twitter @KellyUrban25.

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