Exhibit Honors 20th Anniversary of St. Louis Artist’s Death
A 20th Anniversary Memorial exhibition honoring local artist Nate McClain will be displayed September 8th and 9th at St. Louis ArtWorks on 5959 Delmar Boulevard in the Loop East. Painting The Town: Legacy of Nate McClain features over 50 works by McClain including his award-winning Arnolfini Pasta Portrait, original paintings, vibrant portraits, and engaging still lifes. In addition, the exhibition will be supported by archival material including smaller works, Kodak National Honors photographs, and his first published piece at age 4.
Nate McClain was an emerging artist who tragically passed away at age 24 from a Mississippi River drowning accident in 1997. Born in Granite City IL, Nate was an only child and became a published artist at age 4 when his Happy Birthday Card was sold nationally by Hello Studio’s. He pursued art with a passion winning student contests and earning a Fine Arts degree in Illustration from Southwest Missouri State University (now Missouri State). His mother passed away from cancer in 1993 which had a profound impact on him as she was also an artist and his biggest advocate. After college, he lived in the Washington Avenue ArtLofts in St. Louis as a freelancer being commissioned for a 9-foot mural of Ozzie Smith for his retirement from baseball. Nate was offered a Head Art Director position around the time of his passing.
Painting The Town: Legacy of Nate McClain is the first major retrospective to broadly examine McClain’s legacy in honor of the 20th Anniversary of his tragic passing. The exhibit was crowdfunded via the Arts and Education Council’s stARTup-StL Crowdfunding platform and organized by the Nate McClain Gallery in association with over twenty private collectors from the St. Louis area, Kansas City, Charleston S.C., Portland, Chicago, and New York City.
“This rare event celebrates the life of our dear friend and encourages rediscovery by viewing his works up close and in person, not online,” said Kristopher Barks, curator of the digital Nate McClain Gallery. “Nate was my best friend since preschool and his sudden passing shocked everyone who knew him. For the past twenty years, his loyal friends and family have kept his memory alive thru his online gallery and even saved one of his 16-foot murals from demolition. These passionate fans made this exhibit possible so a wider audience can share in Nate’s legacy.”
Painting The Town: Legacy of Nate McClain opening reception is Friday, September 8th at 7 p.m. followed by an exhibition on Saturday, September 9th from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Reception and exhibit are free and open to the public at St. Louis ArtWorks, 5959 Delmar.
Article by Kristopher Barks, Curator