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Katharine Steele Renninger: Craft, Commitment, Community

March 26 - June 12, 2016


From March 26, 2016 through June 12, 2016 the James A. Michener Art Museum is hosting an exhibition featuring the art of Katharine Steele Renninger, a local artistic icon and one of its founding trustees. The Katharine Steele Renninger: Craft, Commitment, Community exhibition will be on display in the Fred Beans Gallery. (left: Katharine Steele Renninger (1925-2004), Jams and Jellies, 1997, Casein on canvas mounted to Masonite 11 7/8 x 23 7/8 inches. Private Collection.)

Katharine Steele Renninger (1925-2004) was a devoted native of Bucks County and dedicated her career to preserving in paint the achievements of its citizens; the honest craft and design found in architectural structures and handmade objects that represented a disappearing way of life. Katharine Steele Renninger: Craft, Commitment, Community highlights the 2008 gift of Renninger's artistic estate to the Museum, including a treasure trove of early sketchbooks, scrapbooks, and travel studies that trace her artistic and professional development. The archival materials and correspondence reveals why audiences continue to appreciate her work, finding in it a reflection of themselves, their values, and their childhood memories. A self-described "abstract realist," this exhibition showcases Renninger's role as a bridge between the region's art historical past and its present.

"We are honored to have the opportunity to celebrate such an influential artist -- again -- in our community," said Lisa Tremper Hanover, director and CEO of the Michener Art Museum. "In discussions about the achievements of local artists, Katharine Steele Renninger's name is invariably invoked."  

A 1946 graduate of Moore College of Art and Design in Philadelphia, Renninger developed a deep commitment to both her studio practice and to her community. She worked for decades to establish an arts center that would support the significant art history of the region, and eventually became a founding trustee of the James A. Michener Art Museum. Working exclusively with casein, Renninger defined a style that can be compared with several notable American realist painters like Charles Sheeler, and with trompe l'oeil painters John Haberle and John Peto. She was awarded numerous prizes including Purchase Prizes at the American Academy of Arts and Letters (1978) and at the Woodmere Art Museum (1968); as well as four prizes from the National Society of Painters in Casein. A catalogue accompanies the exhibition. (right: Katharine Steele Renninger (1925-2004), Men's Bath House, 1982, Casein on canvas mounted to Masonite, 18 x 27 inches. Private Collection)

The Michener Art Museum hosted a Curator's Gallery Talk on Wednesday, March 29 and will host a Curator's Conversation on Wednesday, May 4 with Guest Curator Liz K. Sheehan in conjunction with the exhibition.  

Katharine Steele Renninger: Craft, Commitment, Community is generously supported by The Pfundt Family Foundation, Jim and Tina Greenwood, and an anonymous donor.


To read section wall labels for the exhibition please click here.

To view the checklist for the exhibition please click here.

(above: Katharine Steele Renninger (1925-2004), Pop Styer's Carriage House, 2000, Casein on canvas mounted to Masonite. 9 7/8 x 28 1/4 inches. Private Collection)


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