On August 7 at 6 p.m., the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts
named one of its galleries for arts patron, Ethel Denton Groos. The gallery's naming was unveiled at a special private reception for Ethel's family and members of her Thursday painting group at the KIA. It is being made possible by a donation to the KIA by Richard Groos in honor of his wife, who passed away from cancer in 1999.
"Ethel was an exceptional artist, working primarily as a painter but experimenting successfully in other mediums as well," said James A. Bridenstine, Director of the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts. "Also with the support of her husband, Dick, Ethel was a wonderful patron of the KIA as a volunteer, a Board member and a donor of a number of exceptional works of art, which she personally selected. We miss her very much."
Ethel was a long time Kalamazoo Institute of Arts member, student and supporter. She participated in weekly painting classes at the KIA for more than 25 years. A native of New York, Ethel attended Cornell University because it was one of the few institutions that offered fine arts courses together with a full liberal arts curriculum. She met her future husband in college in the late 1950s, moved to Hastings, Michigan with Richard, and by the mid-1960s, with her children in school; she focused much of her time to painting. Ethel was part of a small group of artists in an independent painting class who became known as "The Thursday Painters." Her favorite medium was oil painting and she loved to work with the figure, in portraiture and on big canvases. Later in her artistic endeavors, she explored bronze sculpture and created three pieces dedicated to her sons. In the 1980's, she also fell in love with watercolor painting after taking a workshop with Patricia Tabacco-Forrester. Her connection wasn't limited to the KIA Art School though, Ethel also served as a member of the board of directors and her family has been KIA members for more than four decades. In addition, Ethel and Richard funded the purchase of a number of important artworks for the KIA's permanent collection, such as: Yellow Stone Saga by Peter Voulkos and First Portrait of Terence McInerney by Howard Hodgkin.
"Even though she had an hour's drive to get to the KIA, Ethel was such an eager and dedicated member of the Thursday painting group that she always arrived early and with enthusiasm," said Georgia Newman, friend of Ethel Groos. "I think the uniqueness in her artwork, other than her lovely painting style, was her ability to find immediately the delightful qualities in a model. She contributed much to the group in so many ways with her cheerfulness and intelligence."
The gallery named after Ethel Denton Gross displays works drawn from the KIA's permanent collection. Located on the lower level, the gallery is occasionally used for presenting traveling exhibitions, such as the one currently on view, For and Against Modern Art: The Armory Show +100. The Armory Show +100 exhibition showcases artwork from the first major exhibition of modern art in the United States, which is a perfect match for Ethel's love of modern art.