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Kamrowski's last hurrah

 

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But in 1945 his young wife of two years died of cancer. A year later Kamrowski moved to Ann Arbor, where he would be somewhat closer to his young son, whom he'd placed with family members in Minnesota. Kamrowski never publicly admitted regret; indeed, he often said, "If I'd stayed in New York I'd either be very rich or I'd be dead" - an obvious allusion to the abbreviated lives of Pollock and Baziotes.

Teaching became a second passion. According to Cecily Donnelly, a former Kamrowski student at the U-M and cofounder of the River Gallery, Kamrowski was a gifted and generous mentor. Funny and irreverent, with a solid build and an orange brush cut, Kamrowski made an impression, often bringing in discarded remnants from his own studio. Most of his students had no idea their professor had been in the vanguard of modern art's New York school.

Over the years, Kamrowski's energy and drive never faltered, and his style continued to evolve dynamically from the abstract intellectual exercises of the past to colorful 3-D pieces often made of glass, cement, and random found objects. He worked every day and exhibited steadily in Michigan and elsewhere.

Select Kamrowski pieces are represented in such blue-chip collections as New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art. But living in the Midwest with a healthy skepticism toward the celebrity art market - combined with his refusal to be categorized - never made for a high-profile career.

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