The Midwest Museum of American Art is home to a large collection of paintings and drawings by the artist couple Janet and Bruce Kimberling. The majority of this collection, which numbers over 2,000 works by Janet and Bruce Kimberling was generously donated to the museum’s permanent collection in 2013 by Thomas and Dorothy Corson of Middlebury, Indiana. A portrait of Janet Kimberling by Bruce Kimberling was gifted to the collection in 2023 from Janet Kimberling’s estate.
Janet W. Kimberling (1925-2022)
Janet Kimberling first exhibited at the age of 11 in Rockefeller Center, New York City. A native of Pelham, New York, Janet attended Ohio Wesleyan University, and was graduated with honors from Syracuse University with a B.F.A. degree in Illustration.
Janet served as a draftsman in New York City during World War II, spent several years as a package designer in Boston and Buffalo, then 12 years as an architectural illustrator in Milwaukee and Chicago. In 1967, Janet devoted herself exclusively to landscape painting.
Janet was a resident of the Southwest since 1975. Janet was enchanted with the broad sweep of New Mexico’s skies, the ever-changing cloud-shrouded mountains, the crumbling walls of ancient adobes, and the incredible distance the eye can see.
Janet enjoyed the challenge and had the technical mastery to paint outdoors under extreme conditions of wind, blistering sun, or sudden storms. Her larger works, however, are done in the studio from a combination of pencil sketches, color studies, and imagination. Janet never used photographs.
Traditional in method as well as subject matter, Janet ground her own oils from powdered pigments, and painted on the finest imported linen which she prepared herself, in the manner of the old masters. Janet’s work is in many collections throughout the United States and Europe.
Bruce Kimberling (1921-1993)
Bruce Kimberling was an artist of enormous talent, proficient in oils, pastels, pen drawing and wood engraving. His subject matter included western history, figure paintings and drawings, portraits (for which he won a number of awards), still life, Biblical and mythological subjects, book illustrations, even calligraphy. He was a master of the anatomy and movement of the horse; all of his action paintings whether they be western, polo, horse racing, or fox hunting subjects show his fertile imagination, as he did not use photographs.
Having spent many years in museums studying the techniques of the masters of painting, Bruce Kimberling revered the past, preferring the traditional to the sensational in art. He believed the purpose of art is to uplift the soul.
Since he was a very private person, modest and retiring, he never sought publicity or allowed much to be written about himself. Kimberling is listed, however, in the book “American Artists of Renown 1981-1982 by Anne Avery. Bruce received his education from Indiana University, the National Academy of Design, Farnsworth School, and the Corcoran Art School.