About the Artist

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Born in The Netherlands in 1905, Cornelius VanFulpen immigrated to Kalamazoo with his family in 1921.  Follocvf001wing a few months of classes at Vine Street School, the sixteen year old boycvf008 took a job with the Kalasign Company where he worked from 1921 to 1928.  He also worked briefly for the Thompson Sign company before joining the old Bryant Company in 1929. He was to remain with Bryant, later the Allied Paper Company, for 41 years until his retirement in 1970.

VanFulpen says that he was raised in a time when young people were expected to begin work and contribute to the support of the family at an early age.  But his interest in art, as well as his talent, was always evident. He still has a sketch book filled with cvf007very convincing drawings he made at age twelve. Primarily self-taught, he credits his father with being very supportive of his efforts to improve his drawing and painting. “Even though he was a working man, he appreciated art and was proud of the work I did.”

As an adult, VanFulpen continued to paint in hicvf006s spare time.  Describing himself as a “Sunday painter,” he painted primarily alone or with one or two friends.  In the early 1930’s he joined the Palette and Chisel Club, as a means of working more closely with a group of fellow artists.  Two paintings in this exhibition show members of the club at these painting sessions.  When the Art Center began to offer classes for adultcvf004s, VanFulpen joined, taking classes from Ulfert Wilke and Karl Priebe among many others.

VanFulpen began exhibiting in the 1920’s and by the 1930’s he was regularly featured in area art shows, including the Kalamazoo Area Show.  “Kokomo,” a portrait of his brother, was a first place winner in the 1935 Kalamazoo Area Show.  Another painting, “Cold Snap,” was selected last year to be included incvf003 the 1985 Kalamazoo Area Show, a clear indication of the continuing high quality of VanFulpen’s work.  Over the years he has participated in many juried competitions and has had one-person exhibitions at the Civic Theater and in the Cornerstone Gallery.

In speaking of his paintings, VanFulpen admits to being inspired by the Impressionist painters, particularly Monet. “But,” he says, “I don’t like pretty pictucvf005res,”- which are concerned with photographic likenesses where “every little detail is captured and all elements are equal.”  A good painting should have a center’, of interest, should communicate a mood.  “I do try to make beautiful paintings,” he continues, and he repeats the wise observation, “art is doing much with little.”

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