The North Tonawanda History Museum completed a new exhibit on Richard Newman, who was born in North Tonawanda in 1938. He had been a student of Edward Parske at North Tonawanda High School, where he graduated in 1956. Newman donated photos of many of his works of art to the museum for the exhibit.
The museum was encouraged last year to make contact with Newman by fellow student Robert Mangold and several other museum supporters. Mangold wrote to Executive Director Donna Zellner Neal in September 2004, saying, "I was encouraged by Ed Parske as the art teacher at the high school. I have nothing but respect and fondness for him. I probably hold the record for art classes in his one-man effort. He taught us everything from printmaking to ceramic design, perspective drawing, advertising art, etc. He deserves credit for his efforts there. And I was not the only one to benefit. Richard Newman, who was a student when I was there, also lived in the art room and went on to study at Cranbrook Academy in Michigan. He became a professional artist."
Newman said, "My preference as an artist is to work in a manner which blurs media boundaries. Collage, assemblage sculpture and digital imagery from mixed sources are studio methods that trigger my creative instincts. Each of these expressive forms offer me the opportunity to construct a context for the interplay of polarities. This process helps me to integrate many layers of my experience and to resolve contrary ideas and feelings. Conceptually, my work draws upon many sources such as comparative mythology, Jungian psychology, primitive and folk art traditions.
"The less common physical materials I employ come from antique shops, used book stores, personal photographic encounters with the world at large and childhood treasures. I enjoy highlighting visual contrasts, such as the use of illusionary photographs with found objects or polychrome wooden shapes. The finished artworks attempt to make reference to past and present, fact and fantasy, as well as seek to blend classical and romantic impulses."