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Donald Roberts- November 24, 1923 - March 17, 2015
Donald Roberts was a nationally known lithographer, painter and sculptor as well as a highly-respected teacher during his long career. Donald was born in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire in 1923, where he graduated from Brewster Academy. He began studying at the Vesper George School of Art in Boston, Massachusetts in September of 1942. His studies were interrupted when he was inducted into the U.S. Army in March of 1943, serving in the European Theater in a medical unit until being discharged in January of 1946. In 1948, he graduated from Vesper George School of Art, where he taught through 1950. Donald was awarded a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Rhode Island in 1952 and his Master of Fine Arts from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio in 1953. He was a professor of art in the School of Art at Ohio University from 1953 to 1991. He also played the major role in collecting prints for the College of Fine Arts, which eventually became the Kennedy Museum's Contemporary Print Collection. From 2010 Donald served on the Kennedy Museum of Art's Advisory Board.
Remembering Donald Roberts:
Master Printmaker and Dedicated Teacher
Dec. 22, 2015
Story written by Daniel King- courtesy of Ohio University Communications and Marketing
This year Ohio University mourned the loss, and celebrated the life, of a longtime member of the School of Art + Design community, and a seminal figure in the collection of prints and paintings at the Kennedy Museum of Art.
The late professor emeritus, Donald O. Roberts passed away at his home in Athens, in March, at the age of 91. He served as a professor of art in the Ohio University School of Art from 1953 to 1991, and was a longtime member of the local art community.
Growing up in Boston, Massachusetts, he eventually became a nationally known lithographer, painter and sculptor as well as a highly-respected teacher during his long career at Ohio University, during which he maintained a philosophy that original art, rather than looking at reproductions, was essential to learning.
“Frequently he would talk about his early years at Ohio University and how he worked to develop the printmaking department,” said Ed Pauley, Director of the Kennedy Museum of Art. “He was a great storyteller.”
Mary Manusos, OHIO professor emerita of art, credits much of what the School of Art + Design is today as initiated by Roberts and former Dean of Fine Arts, Henry Lin.
“He was a stellar faculty member, artist, and teacher. He loved Ohio University, the program, and his students,” said Manusos.
Pauley echoed what others have said about how Roberts had a great memory. “He had a great love for Ohio University and could tell you in great detail about his history here, as well as of the College.”
According to more than one source, Roberts understood the role art played on campus, and within the community of Athens. He had a close relationship with the local community—the Kennedy Museum of Art and the Dairy Barn in particular.
Roberts married OHIO alumnus June Carver Branham, in 1949. She earned her bachelor's degree in fine arts in 1958. After retirement, Roberts continued to live in the community, said Pauley. “He and his wife travelled and worked on their own art, remaining close-by. Roberts wife preceded him in death in January 2002.
The Kennedy Museum of Art maintains two main print collections; one that is a collection of prints by well-known artists, and the other, the result of the visiting artists who came to campus and left a print after leading a workshop. Many of the prints in this collection were purchased under Roberts’ guidance, and are associated with the 1960s and ’70s print revolution.
Two recent exhibitions were mounted at the Kennedy Museum in the last years of his life, A Space in Time: Works by Donald Roberts on view in 2013, and The Print Collection: Works Selected by Donald Roberts, shown in 2013–2014.
In 2011, recalled Pauley, the renowned artist and OHIO alumnus, Jim Dine (B.F.A. ’57) made a point while visiting Athens for his Exhibition, Jim Dine: Sculpture and Large Prints, to see Donald Roberts and honor him on stage as one of two people who had a big influence on his work.
Donald Roberts is missed, yet his legacy will live on in the Kennedy Museum of Art’s print collection, and in the lives and work of the many students he taught.