Former SAIC Faculty Member and Alumnus LeRoy Neiman and his wife, Janet Byrne Neiman (also an SAIC alumna) contributed a $5 million gift to help create a new center within SAIC’s building at 37 South Wabash Avenue. LeRoy Neiman’s brilliantly colored, motion-filled images of sporting events and leisure activities have made him perhaps the most popular living artist in the United States. A 56-foot-long, eight-foot-tall mural entitled Summertime on the Indiana Dunes, (1965), co-signed by LeRoy and Janet Byrne Neiman, will be prominently displayed in the new center.
The new space, to be named the LeRoy Neiman Center, will transform the northeast corner of Monroe and Wabash into an energetic, light-filled gathering space for SAIC students, faculty, staff, and alumni. The two-story space will house a lounge, café, art gallery, and more.
“LeRoy Neiman’s gift allows us to create a student center for the first time in the history of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago,” said SAIC’s President Dr. Walter Massey. “This new space will extend our campus into the urban fabric of Chicago and serve as a gathering space for students, faculty, and alumni. I fully anticipate that the LeRoy Neiman Center will become the vibrant hub of the SAIC campus. We are tremendously grateful to the Neimans for their extraordinary generosity.”
“Contributing to SAIC is important to me because the care and support of students is essential,” said LeRoy Neiman. “Now, I have the opportunity to give back to the institution that helped me become who I am today.”
Summertime on the Indiana Dunes was created by LeRoy Neiman with assistance from his wife, Janet Byrne Neiman, in 1965 for the Mercantile National Bank in Hammond Indiana. It was commissioned by Jack Murray, Chairman of the Indiana bank, who met the young artist in a New York tavern. The 448-square-foot piece vibrantly depicts a sunny scene of family fun on the Indiana beaches. It is the largest mural ever created by the artist. The LeRoy Neiman Center is scheduled to open in the spring of 2012. The architecture firm of Valerio Dewalt Train Associates has been retained to transform this space within Holabird & Roche’s 1903 building.
ABOUT LEROY AND JANET NEIMAN
Best known for his vibrant, stunningly energetic images of sporting events and leisure activities, LeRoy Neiman is probably the most popular living artist in the United States. Neiman, who attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) from 1946–1950, taught at SAIC for 10 years beginning in 1950 and received an Honorary Doctorate in 2006.
His signature artistic style is familiar to a remarkably broad spectrum of Americans. He was the official artist at five Olympiads, and millions of people have watched him at work: on ABC TV coverage of the Olympics, as CBS Superbowl computer artist, and at other major competitions, televised on-location with his sketchbook and drawing materials, producing split-second records and highly developed images of what he is witnessing. He also has provided illustrations for Playboy magazine since the 1950s including the popular Femlin character that appears on the party jokes page.
Neiman met his wife Janet, when both were students at SAIC, and he went on to teach at the school for 10 years early in his career. Many of his images of what he calls “the good life,” have appeared in the form of etchings, lithographs, silkscreen prints, and sculptures as well as paintings, in the permanent collections of public and private museums and other institutions worldwide. These institutional acquisitions, along with sales of approximately 150,000 of his silkscreen prints to individuals, attest to the enormous appeal of his work.
LeRoy and Janet Neiman’s gifts to SAIC and the affiliated Michigan-based school Ox-Bow collectively total $9 million. A member of the New York City Advisory Commission for Cultural Affairs since 1995, Neiman has received four honorary degrees and, among other honors, an Award of Merit from the American Athletic Union (1976), a Gold Plate Award from the American Academy of Achievement (1977), and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Muscular Dystrophy Association (1986). Through the years he has donated scores of his artworks to charitable organizations.