Archival Collection #081 - Reynold Weidenaar Personal Papers consists of mounted photographs, sketchbooks, scrapbook, original art, and booklets relating to the primary school days of Reynold Weidenaar (1915-1985), a West Michigan graphic artist of national reputation. This material was donated from the personal collection of Mr. Jay Van Andel.
Reynold Weidenaar was born in Grand Rapids in 1915. His parents were of Dutch ancestry. Weidenaar was largely self-taught as an artist, winning his first art award when he was fifteen years old. The body of the artist's work consists primarily of prints, although he also worked in water color and a large number of sketches also exist. He was heavily influenced by Regionalist artists such as Grant Wood, Thomas Hart Benton, and John Taylor Arms. Weidenaar's works have been collected by such institutions as the U.S. Library of Congress, Philadelphia Museum of Fine Art, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, W.R. Nelson Gallery.
This collection compliments the Reynold Weidenaar graphic print collection and the artist materials collections of the Public Museum: see accession 1993.48 and Archival Collection #075.
A full listing of the contents of this collection can be found in the finding aid that is attached to the media section of this catalog entry.
1915 – 1985
Gift Of Jay And Betty Van Andel
Reynold H. Weidenaar Reynold 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.”