10:01 a.m., Sept. 22, 2009----University of Delaware alumnus Michael Kalmbach is a mover and shaker when it comes to supporting the arts in Wilmington. As founder and director of the New Wilmington Art Association (NWAA), he is being recognized for his efforts by being selected to receive the 2009 Christi Award for Outstanding Arts Advocacy from the Christina Cultural Arts Center at a ceremony Oct. 22 at the Baby Grand in Wilmington.
“It is an honor to be recognized by the Christina Cultural Arts Center. More importantly, the Christi Award will give the New Wilmington Art Association a new platform to promote the needs of emerging artists in downtown Wilmington,” Kalmbach said.
After Kalmbach earned his master of fine arts degree from UD in 2008, he became admissions counselor for the Delaware College of Art and Design, where he also will teach some classes. Although he and his wife Rebecca (and now new baby) live in the Newark area, Wilmington was pretty much unknown to him as a city, Kalmbach said, but now he is very much involved in the growing Wilmington art scene.
“I am interested in finding affordable studio space and exhibition venues for young, emerging artists. There were several vacant spaces downtown, and the city itself was involved in revitalizing lower Market Street and was looking for activities that would generate interest in the area,” Kalmbach said.
By chance, Kalmbach met a friend, Alfred Lance, who was involved with Wilmington's economic development department, and that opened some doors and NWAA, which now has approximately 70 members, came into being.
“While studying at UD, I was able to take an urban affairs course in non-profit organizations which was very helpful in talking to different groups about NWAA,” Kalmbach said.
In cooperation with the Buccini Pollin Corporation, which owns several properties in the area and is involved in the restoration of the Queen Theatre, NWAA mounted 13 exhibitions in storefronts and other facilities in Wilmington.
Kalmbach said he also is looking forward to the completion of Shipley Lofts in downtown Wilmington, which will offer some studio space at reasonable rents, and NWAA is involved in looking at other buildings that have potential as well.
Kalmbach has curated exhibitions at in Wilmingtonand Brooklyn and at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, where he received his bachelor's degree in studio arts, but he is first and foremost an artist.
He creates abstract paintings in combination with other materials giving his works a sculptural dimension.
Kalmbach received a University of Delaware Graduate Fellow Award in 2007. “The only requirement was to go in a studio and paint -- it was a fabulous gift,” Kalmbach said.
Article by Sue Moncure