Monday, July 20, 2009

Celebrating the life of longtime Artist Member Paul Sweany

It is with deep regret that we must inform you that the Art Center has lost one of its longest term and beloved instructors. Paul Sweany started teaching in 1957 at the then Art League and continued until his retirement in 2000. His always popular water color and drawing classes won him the Faculty of the Year award in 1993 followed by a retrospective of his work in 2001. Paul will be deeply missed. His family is planning a memorial service at the Art Center and we will keep you informed of the date.


Paul J Sweany, renowned artist, beloved husband and father passed away July 13. He was born in Indianapolis, graduated from Shortridge High School, class of ’45 and served in the Naval Reserve during WWII. As a multi talented individual of rare proportions, Paul chose between a scholarship to the prestigious Martha Graham Dance Company or the pursuit of his passion for the visual arts. Paul chose the latter and went on to receive his B.F.A. from John Herron School of Art in 1951. He married Margaret Marshall in 1950 and they had four daughters. Paul’s multitude of talents was only surpassed by his generous heart, and his sensitivity, wit and sense of humor will be missed by many.

Paul was a prolific artist, best known for his watercolor paintings. His career included over 75 solo exhibitions, over 200 awards, and artwork in private collections the world over. He was an enthusiastic instructor, and taught art and art history at Orchard Country Day School, Park Tudor, John Herron School of Art, Marian College, the Indianapolis Arts Center and the Waldron. The IAC held a lifetime multi-media retrospective of Paul’s artwork in 2001, which included watercolors, oils, ceramics, enamel jewelry, intaglio, lithography, pen & ink, pencil, dry brush ink, silkscreen, photography and a book of his poetry. A great part of Paul’s legacy will be to leave behind more beauty in the world than when he entered into it.

Paul spent many summers leading art history students on tours throughout Europe, enthusiastically sharing his love and knowledge for the Italian Renaissance, as well as all things Italian. Paul used to say " il mio corpo e' Americano e il mio cuore e' Italiano" (my body is American but my heart is Italian). He also insisted that Frascati wine was the “reason God made grapes.” Although he spent many summers traveling abroad as an instructor, he most enjoyed the later trips he took with his artistic partner and beloved wife, Margaret (Peggy). Together they explored their mutual appreciation of art, architecture and breathtaking European landscapes.

Paul was an avid nature lover and environmentalist, as was evident in his artwork and life long hobbies of raising orchids and bird watching. He and Peggy taught their daughters to see beauty in even the most subtle and overlooked details which were often depicted beautifully in his intricate watercolor paintings.

Paul leaves behind his wife, Margaret, their four daughters, Jessica Rutherford (Covington, GA), Justyn Wolf (Rochester, NY), Jaime Sweany and Jenny Stankiewicz (Bloomington, IN), their spouses; nine grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. The family plans a private service at their home, with a public memorial service to be announced at a later date.

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