For many commercial illustrators, recognition from the fine art community comes sporadically, if at all, and few reach the pinnacle of fame they often deserve.
Unless of course they also pursue the more classic fine arts as well as did late Omahan Milton Wolsky.
Milton Wolsky: Illustrating a Modern Omaha Artist, which opens in the UNO Art Gallery in January, 2017, is a deserved recognition for this devoted artist. Organized and curated by Dr. Amy Morris and her University of Nebraska curatorial seminar students, this exhibition appreciates Wolsky mostly for his myriad post-war commercial works; iconic mid-century advertising, book and magazine covers.
He was, however, quite talented in the classical sense, which he preferred to his commercial work. Classically trained, Wolsky studied here and in Chicago and New York, with J. Laurie Wallace, Hans Hofmann and Julian E. Levi.
After a stint as an illustrator with the Army Corps of Engineers during the rebuilding of Japan, Wolsky travelled to Chicago and then New York to pursue both fine art training and his professional career.
His portraiture, still life and landscapes, in both realistic and abstract visual styles, were highly regarded, though he was ineffectual at self-promotion, so distribution of his fine art work suffered. Although the artist is in some prestigious collections, he is not well known for his classical works.
In 1954, upon the death of his mentor Wallace, Wolsky bought Wallace’s studio and moved back to Omaha, continuing his commercial work, and devoting more time on his fine art endeavors. The Wallace Studio still stands at 59th and Leavenworth in Omaha.
Milton Wolsky: Illustrating a Modern Omaha Artist, opens Friday, Jan. 13 from 4:30-6:30 p.m. and continues through Thursday, Feb. 9th in the UNO Art Gallery. Gallery hours: Monday through Thursday 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., or by appointment. For more details, go to unomaha.edu/college-of/fine-arts/art-gallery.com