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This profile was last updated on 9/29/13  and contains information from public web pages and contributions from the ZoomInfo community.

Chair of the Department of Art

Inland Visual Studies Center

Employment History


  • MFA
    Northern Illinois University
20 Total References
Web References
Paul Krainak, chair of the ..., 29 Sept 2013 [cached]
Paul Krainak, chair of the art department at Bradley University, leads the IVSC in this mission. An Illinois native himself, Krainak came to Bradley in 2006 after spending time in Chicago; New York City; Knoxville, Tennessee; and Morgantown, West Virginia; his experiences having left him keenly attuned to the regional differences that comprise America's "melting pot" of culture.
It's the subtleties of the Midwestern landscape that are "absolutely, profoundly beautiful," Krainak says.
From Kansas City to Minneapolis to Chicago, the Midwest has been a "phenomenally productive" place, says Krainak, not only in manufacturing and agriculture, but also in the arts. As the IVSC examines the nature of what qualifies conceptually as "Midwestern," its intent is not to imply a universal aesthetic, but to place the region into a broader context, shining a light into corners that may have been neglected by the dominant arbiters of modern culture.
"We tend to focus on coastal culture almost exclusively, whether it's popular culture or fine art, and that's a problem," he explains. "The work we tend to present as the 'finest' and the 'greatest' tends to be work that is the most marketableā€¦ That's what keeps the Midwest a little off the radar."
Artists gravitate to New York or Los Angeles not because those cities are inherently richer culturally, but simply because "that's where the markets are," says Krainak.
Krainak cites several examples of contributions to American culture that were born and bred in the Midwest. "If you think of the two most profound, culture-changing movements that have occurred in the United States, it's our architecture and our music, specifically blues and jazz," he says.
Architecture, in particular, offers a great model for visual production, Krainak says.
The same abstracted sensibilities can be found in Krainak's own paintings, which employ clean, simple lines in grid-like patterns, not unlike an architectural draft.
"In the Midwest, my relationship to nature is nowhere near as profound as it is to architecture," he continues, "because that's what I interact with, that's what influences me.
"Globalism is only productive if there are numerous cultural zones that are healthy and self-sustaining," says Krainak, likening visual culture to agriculture.
"We don't have cultural heroes in the same sense as when I was growing up," Krainak muses.
"It's niche culture," Krainak affirms.
Krainak cites the Prairie Center of the Arts and its artist-in-residence program as one model of how to develop this type of cultural exchange. "They have artists and writers and musicians coming in from numerous countries and all over the United States," he says. "They've created a national audience for Peoria. That does a great deal for people here-to see what's happening outside the Midwest-and it also supports artists here in Peoria."
In the end, whether you're talking art or economics, it's all about identity. "We have to acknowledge that we're a country made up of a lot of cultural zones that are different in sensibility and inspiration from one another," says Krainak.
Jury Panel [cached]
Paul Krainak - Chair of the Department of Art at Bradley & Director of the Inland Visual Studies Center Paul Krainak has an acclaimed background in the arts industry with over 42 years of experience. He is a painter, critic and Chair of the Department of Art as well as the Founder and Director of the Inland Visual Studies Center at Bradley University. Paul has exhibited widely in museums and galleries throughout the U.S. and lectured in numerous venues in the U.S., China and Eastern Europe. Since receiving his MFA from Northern Illinois University in 1978, he has been writing criticism. Currently, he is the St. Louis Contributing Editor for Art Papers.
Juror: Paul Krainak, ..., 7 May 2008 [cached]
Juror: Paul Krainak, West Virginia University
LOCAL Group Exhibitions/Awards
Art Review: Utopian visions, 23 April 2005 [cached]
The performer was Michael Pestel, and the video of that performance is part of his collaborative exhibition with Paul Krainak at Chatham College titled "Brasilia: Constructing Oscar Niemeyer and Heitor Villa-Lobos."
One of eight paintings by West Virginia University faculty member Paul Krainak in the exhibition "Brasilia: Constructing Oscar Niemeyer and Heitor Villa-Lobos" at Chatham College.
The impetus for the exhibition at hand was a conversation with Krainak, who suggested doing a show about Villa-Lobos and the "conflation of folk idioms with the whole machinery of the modernist orchestra."
The resultant exhibition is an examination of modernism told through two passionate talents (Villa-Lobos and Niemeyer) fused within the crucible of a utopian dream (though also consider the metaphor extended to Pestel and Krainak working within and struggling with the modernist tradition).
On the walls, eight paintings by Krainak, a professor of painting at West Virginia University, are meticulous and architectonic while simultaneously conducting equatorial heat.They represent paintings Niemeyer made of his designs for a never-realized house that Villa-Lobos requested and that were sealed with him in his coffin.A composition by Villa-Lobos, written for the dedication of Brasilia but which he instead destroyed, coincidently has the same title as the work to be performed tonight, "The Brasilia Concert."
Fact? Fiction?
If the exhibition is a modernist critique, and an aesthetic self-examination by Pestel and Krainak, the video is a redemptive moment.
Art Review: Adventurous art moves into Terminal Building, 29 Mar 2003 [cached]
"Recuperated Spaces," paintings by West Virginia University art professor Paul Krainak, is a fitting choice for the inaugural exhibition since Springboard itself is breathing life into a once-diminished space, and also because of the kinship Krainak's paintings have with Rosenblatt's Biennial work.
Spare and abstract, the paintings' geometric units map space, suggesting floor plans or landscapes (agricultural, urban grids) and reflecting Krainak's interest in architecture.His cool palette is contemporary but also referential of the 1950s, as in streaked rectangles reminiscent of linoleum or countertops of that time period.
Krainak applies paint to surface with measured care, and his almost obsessive delineation -- particularly in those paintings where a tape-like band separates the central gray (neutral?) area from the color blocks -- suggests an attempt to impose (an historic?) order and control upon intellectual trends that favor disassembling conventional structures.
The artist allows that the work is personal and about memory.As such, it dramatizes the struggle inherent in reconciling the values of a suburban Midwestern (Chicago) childhood and modernist representation with the culture of global postmodernism that so heavily imbues the art world.A nondiscordant resolution of such tensions, which lie within the persona of many artists who matured during this radical metaphysical shift, would be a welcome contribution to painting's evolution.Works such as these continue to push that philosophical and aesthetic dialogue along.
A small catalog with essay that elaborates the artist's themes accompanies this traveling exhibition.
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