cover of show catalog from Kim Novak's solo show of pastel painting at the giffuni gallery of the Butler Institute of American Art

Butler Museum Solo Show 2014

Introduction to Butler Museum Solo Show 2014 Catalogue by Dr. Louis Zona


“A really great talent finds its happiness in execution.” Goethe

“Kim Novak’s portrait of Nelson Mandela, Transformation, reveals much. This and the other works in the Butler exhibition demonstrate a level of skill that is remarkable. Also revealed is a sensitivity not only to a highly revered subject in Mr. Mandela, but also a gentle touch in the utilization of the pastel medium. It is a difficult material to manage, but Novak handles it with ease. This painting also offers an insight into the artist’s creative nature. Skills can be learned but inventiveness and divergent thinking is really what is meant by the umbrella term “talent.” Kim Novak possesses a wonderful level of talent which shines through so powerfully in such works as “They Danced All Night” and “In The Canyons Of My Mind.” She interprets broadly and presents a world drawn exclusively from imagination. This level of innovation cannot be taught. But rather, this is the “gift” that the great 19th century French novelist, Emil Zola, referred to as being essential but which is “nothing without hard work.” Clearly, Kim Novak understands this and the overall quality of her art is a testament to the relationship between the gift of talent and the hard work necessary to achieve artistic success. The old adage that genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration applies to accomplishment in the arts as well.

Part of the appeal of Kim Novak’s art is that sense of the ethereal. She utilizes the unique qualities of the pastel medium to present a sense of altering states. Surrealism meets traditional realism in an effect which is anything but static. Images meld into other images and the effect is at once classically beautiful and wondrously mysterious. Art, after all, exists as an artificial universe which we humans need and desire. In this special world we are entertained, educated, and inspired. In the case of Kim Novak, she is truly twice blessed to be able to create extraordinary art in two distinct fields as both an honored actress and as an admired visual artist. We are grateful for her talents and also for her good work in sharing her sound belief that art not only inspires, entertains and educates, but it also heals. The healing power of art is real and Kim Novak has devoted her energies to that most worthwhile of causes. Her art has enriched her life and her personal experience has touched many others. The exhibition is dedicated to art’s power to heal and to one extraordinarily talented woman whose life and art is surely a national treasure.

The Butler Institute of American Art is grateful to Kim Novak for this outstanding exhibition of her work. It exemplifies excellence and is a beautiful reminder of the power of art as a force for good.”

Louis A. Zona
Director, Butler Institute of American Art

Below, please enjoy Kim Novak at the Butler on Vimeo, a 9 minute profile of Actress Kim Novak and her acting and artistic career, narrated by Dr. Louis Zona of the Butler Institute, and with a segment of Kim painting in her studio accompanied by her own comments.

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