Hite Art Institute hails benefactor-artist
Fine arts students and faculty recently paid tribute during the Hite Art Institute’s 75th anniversary to a benefactor and artist who began his UofL studies the year the department was founded.
They dedicated the Bill Fischer Art Studios — leased studio space the lifelong artist has funded since 2010 in the former Our Mother of Sorrows School, 770 Eastern Parkway near Belknap Campus. Former classrooms there are subdivided so student artists can work on large-scale art and create multiple pieces simultaneously.
“That space is just amazing,” said Charlotte Pollack, a Goshen, Ky., student who’ll graduate in December and who received the Bill Fischer senior project grant this spring. “I wouldn’t be able to paint at the size I’m doing (otherwise).”
“It’s truly a gift to be able to go there, have a sense of community and 24-hour access,” said Jordan Lance Morgan, a Louisville senior chosen to represent students at the Fischer ceremony Nov. 16. “It means a lot that you are not just a philanthropist but also an artist.”
Fischer’s 2012 donations and pledges to UofL’s Hite Art Institute totaled $220,000 to help with the studios and student aid. He also endowed grants that go each semester to a 2-D art student and 3-D art student who are preparing their senior-project artwork for exhibition.
Some of those students’ works will be included in the BFA Thesis Exhibition Nov. 29–Dec. 21 in the Schneider Hall galleries; the free, public opening reception for the student artists graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree will be 5:30 p.m.–7:30 p.m. Nov. 29.
In September, UofL professor James Grubola, also head of the drawing program, curated a 20-piece exhibit of Fischer’s artwork at Treyton Oak Towers, the Louisville retirement community where Fischer now lives. Representing more than a half-century of Fischer’s work in various media, the show’s themes included travel, religious-inspired art, abstractions and city scenes. Several fine arts students helped him and John Begley, UofL galleries director, hang the exhibit, and many attended the opening reception there.
“The one constant in Bill’s life was always his art,” Grubola said, sharing that the artist for his 90th birthday had chosen to have 30 canvases stretched in preparation for painting.
After Fischer’s studies at UofL in the 1930s, he studied a year in Mexico in San Miguel de Allende, where he worked with muralist David Alfaro Siquieros and artist Rico Lebrun. Primarily a painter, Fischer also designed a 12-window series of translucent faceted glass at Keneseth Israel Congregation synagogue in Louisville.
“Mr. Fischer has given generously to support our students, and we are honored he considers us an important place to support,” said Ying Kit Chan, fine arts chair. “This year we are celebrating our 75th anniversary. We are very proud of the accomplishments by many of our alumni. His dedication and contributions have demonstrated that he is a genuine artist and true gentleman.”