Unfortunately, Kamrowski's legacy will soon become less visible in these parts too. Since his death, Kamrowski's widow has moved to northern California, where the remainder of his work now resides. So Chelsea's River Gallery, one of Kamrowski's longtime Michigan dealers, has thoughtfully organized a sort of last hurrah — a major retrospective spanning the artist's diverse career. It runs through Sunday, December 5. Outsize biomorphic paintings, abstract works on paper, multifaceted and weighty mosaics, and a colorful menagerie of Kamrowski's animal sculptures are on view in this seminal tribute show at the gallery's gorgeous new two-story space in downtown Chelsea.
Born in northwestern Minnesota, Kamrowski arrived in New York in 1938 and became a fixture in the downtown art crowd. It was a heady time, when artists explored and exchanged new ideas and techniques. "No one was concerned with turning out an identity commodity," Kamrowski later recalled.
In 1941, in what is now art-world legend, Baziotes brought some quick-drying lacquer to Kamrowski's studio, and the two of them and Pollock dripped it onto several canvases. In one wintry evening, abstract expressionism was born. In 1990 Kamrowski reminisced, "We were commanding the scene. . . . People were paying attention."