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University of Iowa News Release

Nov. 14, 2003

Sale Of Works By Former UI Art Professor Will Be At Museum Of Art Nov. 23-Dec. 7

An exhibition and sale of more than 50 works by former University of Iowa School of Art and Art History faculty member James Lechay will be held at the University of Iowa Museum of Art (UIMA), Sunday, Nov. 23, through Sunday, Dec. 7.

The artworks in the show were left to the UIMA by Lechay when he died in 2001, with the intent that they be used to benefit the museum. All the works in the show will be on sale, at prices ranging from $750 to $5,000. Proceeds will be used to support current renovations to the museum.

The pieces include works on paper and paintings, and many include a gift certificate for framing at Hudson River Gallery & Frame Co.

Lechay taught at the UI from 1945 until his retirement in 1975, when he moved to Wellfleet, Mass. He continued painting until his death at age 94. Apart from the works in the current sale and exhibition, there are 26 works by Lechay in the museum's permanent collection, including oil paintings and works on paper.

Lechay was known for an economic style, employing vibrant colors in a controlled and restrained manner. His subtle compositions combine spare, freely drawn lines with large blocks of color.

"Jim was the quintessential portraitist and minimalist of civilized human beings, of nature, and of animated objects," said Wallace Tomasini, former chair of the School of Art and Art History. "He approached his subjects as a psychologist of line and color in an ambiance of changing light and space. His paintings were everything a photograph was not."

Lechay earned a bachelor of arts degree at the University of Illinois and began graduate work in comparative psychology. Before finishing his master's degree, he moved home to New York in order to pursue painting. He participated in the Easel Project of the Depression-era Works Progress Administration (WPA), and in 1941 he placed third in the Chicago Art Institute's American Annual Painting Competition. He went on to teach at the UI for more than 30 years.

Lechay's work has been exhibited in scores of museums throughout the United States and Europe, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York; the Corcoran Gallery of Art and the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C.; the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Provincetown (Mass.) Art Association.

In addition to the public sale of Lechay's works, a private members preview and advance sale will be held Saturday, Nov. 22, in the UIMA. For additional information on this event, please call the museum at 319-335-1727.

The UI Museum of Art, located on North Riverside Drive in Iowa City, is open noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, and noon to 10 p.m. Thursday and Friday. Admission is free. Public metered parking is available in UI parking lots west and north of the museum.

For more information on the UI Museum of Art visit on the World Wide Web. Information on other UI arts events is available at To receive UI arts news by e-mail, contact

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Peter Alexander, 319-384-0072,

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