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Cornelius Van Fulpen

Cornelius “Neil” Van Fulpen was one of the chief organizers in establishing the Kalamazoo Area Pastel Society. Already an artist of superior ability, he assisted in establishing an organization composed of artists who were interested in developing their proficiency in pastel. He took great pleasure in the group, and was always enthusiastic and helpful. His greatest joy, beside his family, was painting. He loved the pure, creative force involved, and his work reflected that love. Neil was known in local art circles for his kind, gentle demeanor.

Cornelius Van Fulpen immigrated to the United States from Amsterdam in 1920 at the age of 15. After moving to Kalamazoo in 1921, he worked for Allied Paper Company before retiring in 1970.

Fame and fortune were not his goals. He only wished to create and show the beauty of his everyday world. He did this in his lovely and vibrant paintings, and by doing so, shared his God-given gift with all of us. His paintings of Kalamazoo spanned the many years he lived here, and reflected the growth and progress of this city. His earlier paintings depict a Kalamazoo that is long gone, with mills and buildings that no longer stand.

Never one to rest on his laurels or coast on his successes, Neil kept on doing new paintings, attending workshops, reading more books on art, and pushing his talent to its fullest potential. He never lost sight of the source of his talent, and used it to give joy to others. Neil referred to himself as a “Sunday painter” Others often called him “an inspiration” and “a painter of Kalamazoo scenes” When he died, there was a painting started on his easel.

Since Cornelius Van Fulpen holds a special memory for all of us with Flowerfest, a memorial tribute will be the focal point of this year’s “Pastel Paintings in the Park” Several of his original paintings will be available, as well as 500 limited-edition prints of an original, pastel painting created by Neil in Bronson Park during festival week of 1985. Flowerfest will be developing a limited-edition print competition, soliciting works by local artists whose work reflects the Kalamazoo County area. Each year’s selected artist and their work will receive the Van Fulpen Award, and will be included in all Flower­fest promotional activities for that year.

 

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