Künstler plans series
Winchester — Mort Künstler, isn’t ready to lay the Civil War to rest yet, but he is getting closer.
The artist has announced he will do a series of eight Civil War paintings over the next three years before retiring from the genre altogether. The series, titled “A Tribute to the Legend,” will feature historical locations, personalities and events that are special to Künstler, 81, of Oyster Bay, N.Y.
Künstler has produced more than 350 paintings on the Civil War since he began focusing on that time period almost exclusively in the 1980s. When painting, he said he always wants to do his best, but he has gotten to the point where he is competing against himself “to top the last one.”
“After a while, you come up with different ideas and just keep working away at it,” he said. “But at this point I think it is time to move on.”
The first painting in the series, “Shenandoah Strategy,” will also be the last of Künstler’s annual snow scenes, he said. Prints will be sold at a signing from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at King James Galleries, 161 Prosperity Drive, Suite 104, Winchester.
The signing is part of a larger weekend of events that includes a dinner from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday in the ballroom of the George Washington Hotel and a book signing for the newest book of Künstler’s paintings, “For Us the Living,” from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, 901 Amherst St.
Painting is a compulsion for Künstler and not one he intends to give up as long as he is physically able to do it, he said. But after he paints the eighth and final painting in the series in 2015, the only reason he will draw any more Civil War paintings is for his own “amazement or amusement.”
The projected end for the series will be April 9, 2015, the 150th anniversary of the Confederate surrender at Appomattox Court House. The last painting will depict the signing, he said.
The activities start with Friday’s “An Evening with Mort Künstler,” a fundraising dinner at the hotel for the Mort Künstler Endowment Fund for the Timber Ridge School, said Troy Newbraugh, director of development. A reception starts at 6 p.m. and dinner will be at 7 p.m.
In addition to the dinner, guests will be able to watch Künstler create a live charcoal sketch, which will probably be related to the Civil War, Newbraugh said.
“After he does the sketch, I will talk about why we are doing the endowed fund. Mort will say some words,” said Newbraugh of Winchester. “We will have an auctioneer come up and auction off the sketch.”
Künstler said he plans to keep the sketch time short so the guests won’t get bored. “It has got to be a five or 10 minute sketch.”
Tickets are $100 per person. To reserve a ticket, call 540-888-9523.
At the official unveiling of Künstler’s 2012 snow print at King James Galleries, the artist will sign prints of “Shenandoah Strategy,” a night scene featuring Stonewall Jackson. He is on horseback surrounded by several of his men in woods near Glen Burnie and he is using a lantern to read a map.
“I think it is one of the best paintings I have ever done, so I am very happy with it,” he said.
The event is free and open to the public. Print prices vary.
The weekend ends with a book signing at MSV of the collector’s edition of “For Us the Living,” the book featuring Künstler’s work about the 19th century. The text of the book was written by James I. Robertson Jr. and the foreword by Harold Holzer, who is a foremost Lincoln expert. He is a senior vice president at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The title of the book came from a line in the Gettysburg Address. The cost of the coffee table book, which was released in October, is $50, he said.
Though Künstler is stepping away from the Civil War, he is not leaving the war genre altogether, he said. He is shifting his focus to the Revolutionary War with several commissioned paintings and a book planned on the subject.
As with his first foray into depicting the Civil War, the Revolutionary War paintings started with a commission. He did a painting of Gen. George Washington crossing the Delaware River that is more historically accurate than Emanuel Leutze’s iconic 1851 piece.
“I am not taking away from it. It is an inspirational, fabulous painting. But it is not accurate,” Künstler said. “I was commissioned to do the accurate version.”
For more information on this weekend’s events, go to mortkunstler.com.
— Contact Laura McFarland at firstname.lastname@example.org