Canton Museum of Art Opening Major Retrospective Exhibition for Award Winning Artist Joseph O'Sickey

"Unifying Art, Life and Love" Features Stunning Works from Seven Decades



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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  April 11, 2013, Canton, Ohio — Experience a world of vibrant color, where art joins life and love through the eyes of treasured Northeast Ohio artist Joseph O’Sickey.  A major new retrospective exhibition, “Unifying Art, Life and Love,” opens May 2 at the Canton Museum of Art (CMA) and will be on view through July 21. 

This stunning exhibition features expressive canvases and drawings covering seven decades of O’Sickey’s work, offering beauty for all ages and imaginations!  The images invite the viewer on a journey to excite the senses — lush gardens, the colorful circus, amazing zoos, thundering horse tracks and more.  The Canton Museum of Art exhibition will showcase more than 160 of his works, from oil paintings to watercolors to sketches.

“Joseph O’Sickey’s work is simply dynamic and pulls you right in to the subject matter and every detail,” said Canton Museum of Art Executive Director M. J. Albacete.  “From large canvases to small sketches, we are allowed into his world.  The Museum will be filled with an awesome display of O’Sickey’s life, from the 1940s through today.  We are proud to host this dramatic display of artistic achievement, and audiences from Northeast Ohio and beyond should be prepared to be awed.

“We are grateful to Joe for sharing his lifelong dedication to his art and the abundant gift of his creativity, which deserves our respect and admiration,” said Albacete.

O’Sickey, 94, is the recipient of a 2013 Ohio Governor’s Award for the Arts in the individual artist category, which will be presented May 15 in Columbus, Ohio.  He is a retired art professor and graphic designer who taught at The Ohio State University, the former Western Reserve University and Kent State University for 25 years.  His works are in public and private collections across the world.

A lifelong painter and passionate advocate of sketching from “real life,” O’Sickey believes in drawing not only relationships between the placement of objects and colors in a composition, but also stresses the importance of drawing the relationships of personal life experiences.

According to O’Sickey, “The practice of sketching and drawing perceived relationships will prepare you better for studies in science, including the social sciences; certainly in all the arts; it will provide an important understanding in questions of values, priorities, meanings, certitudes, truths, what we study in schools, and experience and believe as we live.”

Education Outreach “Sketching Program” a Major Component for O’Sickey Exhibition
In conjunction with O’Sickey’s sketching background and the new exhibition, the Canton Museum of Art is providing Stark County fourth and fifth grade classrooms with an opportunity to develop observational skills and learn from an experienced artist.  Initially piloted in March in the Canton City School District’s fourth-grade classrooms, artists from the Museum visited classes to prepare students for their upcoming tour of the exhibition. 

During each 40-minute lesson, artists provided the students with information on O’Sickey and his artistic philosophies, including his practice of filling sketchbooks throughout his career and his interest in drawing from observation.  To introduce students to the concept of sketching from life, the visiting artists brought along models – Fire-bellied Toads.  Students observed the toads for various lengths of time and then created sketches of their own.

O'Sickey himself provided sketchbooks for all of the students participating in the lessons thus far.  Since launching the program, the Museum has been able to bring art education and instruction to nearly 700 students from 30 different classrooms.

Stark County educators interested in learning details about participating in the Museum’s Visiting Artists Program or scheduling a tour of “Joseph O'Sickey: Unifying Art, Life and Love,” should contact Erica Emerson at the Museum, (330) 453-7666.

Events Related to the Joseph O’Sickey Exhibition:

Opening Night Celebration — May 1, “An Evening in the Garden with Joseph O’Sickey”
The Canton Museum of Art will host an exhibition opening night celebration, “An Evening in the Garden with Joseph O’Sickey,” on Wednesday, May 1, 6:00 – 9:00pm, in the Great Court of the Cultural Center for the Arts.  Attendees will meet the renowned artist and get a “first-look” of the exhibition.  The evening will feature exhibit-themed heavy hors d’oeuvre stations, two complimentary drinks and cash bar, as well as live jazz music by The University of Akron Jazz Ensemble.  Tickets are limited and are $50.00 for Museum members, $60.00 for non-members.  For reservations, call Lynn Daverio at the Museum (330) 453-7666, ext. 104.

Exhibition Catalog Available — Joseph O’Sickey: A Life of Art
Accompanying this engaging exhibition will be a full color, 156-page catalog available in both hardcover and softcover.  Written and assembled by exhibition curator Christine Fowler Shearer and Steven Litt, art and architecture critic at The Plain Dealer, the book chronicles O’Sickey’s life and works in vibrant fashion.  Litt’s feature reviewing O’Sickey’s art takes the form of conversations at the artist’s home in Kent, Ohio, in which decades of artistic peer relationships and life influences are chronicled.  More than 100 of O’Sickey’s works are included in the book, which will be available at the Museum Shop during the exhibition.    

New PBS Documentary Takes Viewers Inside Joseph O’Sickey’s World
Western Reserve PBS (WNEO 45.1/WEAO 49.1) will premiere its new hour-long documentary, Joseph O’Sickey: The Art of Life, on Friday, May 3, at 9 p.m.  The documentary will repeat on Saturday, May 4, at 4:30 p.m., with additional airings throughout May and June.  The documentary showcases his remarkable life and career, following him in his Kent home and studio as he discusses the evolution of his painting style, his devotion to the practice of sketching and his more than 60-year love affair with his late wife, Algesa.  In the course of producing the documentary for Western Reserve Public Media and interviewing O’Sickey, freelance journalist Sarah Taylor discovered that, “Joe does not view art as work, although clearly he’s a very productive artist.  He views his art as a way to experience life.”  

About Joseph O’Sickey
Born in Detroit, Michigan in 1918, Joseph O’Sickey’s family moved to Cleveland when he was four months old and settled in the Polish neighborhood of Saint Stanislaus Parish.  His grandparents were all born in Europe and were part of the great wave of immigration in the late 19th century.

O’Sickey attended East Tech High School in Cleveland from 1934 to 1937 while also attending Saturday morning classes at the Cleveland School of Art (now Cleveland Institute of Art).  He also took advantage of free evening classes at the John Huntington Art and Polytechnic Institute.  Upon graduating from high school in January 1937, he continued his studies at the Cleveland School of Art.  In March of 1941, he was drafted into the Army where he spent nearly half of his four years and ten months in service overseas in Africa, India and Burma.  Since it was difficult to obtain painting materials, O’Sickey focused on drawing with whatever medium and paper was available.  He still owns drawings from this period because he felt it was at that time that he honed his drawing skills.

In early 1946, O’Sickey had an encounter that would be the single most important moment in his life – meeting Algesa D’Agostino at the 1030 Gallery in Cleveland.  Due to various circumstances, the courtship would take until August 1947 before they were married.  During that time, O’Sickey spent the summer of 1946 traveling through the American West with Cleveland artists John Paul Miller and Paul Travis.  Upon his return to Ohio, O’Sickey found employment at The Ohio State University.  While at OSU, O’Sickey was influenced by his informal study with Hoyt Sherman and began a life-long friendship with fellow faculty member Roy Lichtenstein.  Although he was offered continued employment after his year at OSU, O’Sickey returned to Cleveland and Algesa.

From the late 1940s into the early 1960s, he worked at a variety of jobs in Cleveland.  In 1956 he was hired to teach design at the School of Architecture at Western Reserve University.  In 1962 he bought a house in Deer Isle, Maine, that would become his and Algesa’s summer home for 31 years.  However, his life really changed in 1964 when he received an appointment as Assistant Professor of Art at Kent State University, where he continued teaching until his retirement in 1989.

Employment as a full-time faculty member finally gave O’Sickey time to engage in substantial work on his art.  After commuting from Cleveland Heights for four years, in order for his son to graduate high school, he and Algesa moved to Twin Lakes near Kent, Ohio. 

In 1963, O’Sickey began his long time relationship with the Jacques Seligmann Galleries in New York City.  Upon their closing in 1978, he began a relationship with Kennedy Galleries in New York until 1994.  Locally he has been represented by Vixseboxse Art Galleries and The Bonfoey Company.  He has won numerous awards in painting at the annual May Show of the Cleveland Museum of Art and had more than 50 one-person shows throughout his life.  His works can be found in private and public collections including Butler Institute of American Art, Bristol Myers, Canton Museum of Art, Cleveland Artists Foundation, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland Public Library and Cleveland Museum of Art, among others.

Special Thanks to Exhibition Donors
This project is made possible by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services; a grant from the Ohio Humanities Council; a grant from the Stark Community Foundation; and generous support from: Dorothy Lichtenstein, Kent State University, Ronnie and Dinny Bell, The Bonfoey Company, Vincent and Olwen Dowling, Mr. and Mrs. Scott Isquick, Joe and Nancy Keithley, Grant and Ellen Kloppman, Ted and Sue Sande, and Clare Fitzpatrick and Robert Blatchford.  Special thanks to the Ohio Arts Council and ArtsinStark for continued exhibition and operating support of the Canton Museum of Art.

About the Canton Museum of Art
The Canton Museum of Art (CMA) is Ohio's premier location for an exceptional visual arts experience.  CMA is recognized for its unrivaled Permanent Collection of American watercolors and contemporary ceramics, powerful national touring exhibits, high-quality original CMA exhibits and innovative education outreach programs.  For more information about the Canton Museum of Art, including hours, exhibits and special events, call (330) 453-7666, visit, Facebook® at “Canton Museum of Art” or @CantonMuseum on Twitter®.

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Story Photos & Captions

  1. Joseph O’Sickey Portrait — (2013) Publicity Photo
  2. “Self-Portrait Among Paints and Brushes” – (1989) watercolor and ink on paper
  3. “Table and Flowers on Lawn” – (1984) oil on canvas
  4. “Jockeys Exercising Horses in the Morning” – (1967) oil on canvas