DescriptionReynold Weidenaar was born in Grand Rapids in 1915, the eldest of two children of a Christian Reformed minister. In 1923, at the age of 8, Rey found a drawing of a train on a pile of garbage. The simple line drawing of a locomotive speeding down the tracks caught his eye and galvanized his imagination. And while many 8-year-old boys might love to draw trains, Rey Weidenaar was really, really good at it.
What followed was an extraordinary artistic career that Weidenaar pursued with diligence and passion right up until his death in 1985. While the critical successes of Weidenaar’s career can be measured by the hundreds of awards his works earned, here in his hometown, “Rey” was well known for his trademark red beret and his often-sighted license plate which simply read, “ARTIST.”
Weidenaar saw himself and his work as a bulwark of sanity and realism in an art world that frequently leaned towards the sensational and the abstract. His role as an arbiter of taste for Grand Rapidians is perhaps best summed up by a quote he gave to the Grand Rapids Press in 1978, “Abstract art offends me, and the lifestyle of some abstract artists offends me.”