Lifetime artist, 14 year department chair to retire
When Department of Art Chair Win Bruhl retires in June, his legacy will remain, embodied in “Red Bud,” his contribution to UALR’s permanent art collection.
He creates landscapes, like “Red Bud,” because he enjoys the solitude and quietness of it, Bruhl said. “It’s particularly important to me in the context of a time in which things seem to be moving faster and faster,” he said, and added that technology can obstruct communication between people and the landscape. “I sometimes think I’m living in the wrong century,” he said.
Bruhl pursues printmaking because of its long, drawn-out process and the mystery that unfolds in that process, he said. “You don’t know what the print’s going to be until you devote hours and hours to it.” Bruhl estimated that he spent at least 200 hours on “Red Bud.”
Bruhl has been an artist since he was “old enough to hang on to a pencil or Crayola,” he said. In elementary school, Bruhl made a mosaic on the school wall and sold crafts at recess with his brother. They got their creativity from their father, who was a cabinet maker, Bruhl said.
In 1966, Bruhl earned his bachelor’s degree in studio art. “Initially, I just wanted to be a famous artist,” he said. Then, in 1967, Bruhl was drafted. He served two years as an army artist in Germany.
His GI Bill allowed him to earn three more degrees, two of which are in art education. Bruhl has taught at four universities. At one point, he thought about giving up teaching and opening a blueberry farm, which he would have called “Blueberry Thrills.”
In 1998, Bruhl moved to Arkansas to be department chair at UALR. “This is the best place I’ve been,” he said.
After 43 years of teaching, however, Bruhl said that it is time for him to do something else. “I have a lot ahead of me,” he said. If Bruhl stays in Arkansas, he will spend more time at his studio, Southern Flyer Press. He and his wife may spend an extended period of time in Italy, where his son and grandchildren live.
Bruhl’s proudest accomplishment as chair is the addition of the applied design program, he said. The program, which focuses on traditional crafts, is the only program of its kind in the state, he added. Bruhl said that the program “gives people the option to pick up on the American craft movement and try to revitalize that movement.”
This spring, the art department is honoring Bruhl with the gallery, “Collecting Prints.” Bruhl had no part in the selection and said that the exhibition was put together “almost secretly.” He is very pleased with the exhibition, he said. “It’s really diverse and, because of that, it’s quite exciting.” The exhibition also has excellent educational potential, he said, because all four types of printing are represented.
Bruhl is “very grateful” that the exhibit includes “Red Bud.” He is especially glad to see it hanging next to another landscape, which was printed by his hero, Gustave Baumann.