Barry Gealt


President's Medal for Excellence (2017)
School of Art and Design Dedication
Location: Bloomington
Presenter: Michael A. McRobbie


Barry Gealt retired from IU in 2009 after almost 40 years as a fine-arts professor. Gealt, 70, has spent his working life inventing a visual language in oil paint.

About his own formative years and those of other artists of his generation, Gealt says, "We were from a time of epic-ness. Born during World War Two, I started Yale grad school in '63. Kennedy was murdered, there were race riots, big wars, big paintings, everything was big around us. We were just young kids, but we went to art school and all our teachers painted big and we painted big."

Gealt's studio is on the grounds of the 120-acre property near Spencer where he lives with his wife, Adelheid Gealt, an art historian and the director of the IU Art Museum. She gardens, he paints. For years he took his imagery from the glens and waterfalls on the property. Then a few years ago a residency at Giverny, France, led to a side trip to √Čtretat on the Normandy coast where the ocean captured his imagination and where he painted many seascapes.

"To be an artist you have to dig deep into what's important to you," Gealt says. "Life's a struggle, a long horizon line, and you often don't see past it. Right behind the horizon line is change and you can't be afraid of that."