Watch now: Art sale to benefit Bloomington-Normal artist Harold Boyd, in care of Alzheimer’s disease | Arts and theater

BLOOMINGTON — Artists from Bloomington-Normal and beyond have come together to raise money for Alzheimer’s care for local artist and retired Illinois State University professor, Harold Boyd.

Rhea Edge is hosting a sale of Boyd’s work at her downtown Bloomington gallery, Beluga Press Gallery, 313 N. Main St. The gallery will be open as part of a reception to be held at the McLean County Arts Center on Friday, and will also be open on Saturday.

Rhea Edge presents exhibition of work by Harold Boyd at his studio and gallery at 313 N. Main St. in downtown Bloomington


Boyd was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in early 2020, but had shown signs of progressive disease progression for about a decade prior, Edge said. He is now being cared for at Sugar Creek Alzheimer’s Special Care Center. It’s hard to say how Boyd is now, Edge said, but she paid and helped with his care.

“There’s no big answer to that,” she said. “Because he has Alzheimer’s disease and has had it for some time.”

Edge met Boyd when she was one of his students at ISU, as well as an assistant in the print studio there, which Boyd started.

Boyd never spent much time cataloging his work, Edge said, but she estimated he left around a thousand works. He rarely focused on making his work available to a wider audience beyond his studio, something he regretted in a 2017 interview with MCAC executive director Doug Johnson.

Boyd’s art focuses on people, Edge said. Human figures are prominent, including figures based on Adlai Stevenson, famous poets and doctors, Boyd and Edge. The depictions aren’t literal, however, and Edge said they were meant to represent broader humanity.

“His work is about all of us human beings,” she said. “(…) It’s not really a portrait because it’s about something larger.

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Rhea Edge presents the exhibition of Harold Boyd’s work at his studio and gallery at 313 N. Main St. in downtown Bloomington. Edge points to himself in a watercolor entitled “Sprite”.


Edge described Boyd as a thoughtful artist, who commuted to the studio in the Lang-Fuller building every day and often spent a lot of time looking at his work before deciding on the next mark to make. He has worked in various media including drawings, prints, collages and cast bronze.

Boyd was born in Iowa in 1938, according to a press release from the group that helped organize the sale. He graduated from the University of Kansas with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1959 and began teaching at ISU in the 1960s, including beginning the printmaking program. He retired from UIS in 2000. His work has been featured in hundreds of exhibitions and is part of dozens of permanent collections in art museums across North America.

Harold Boyd

Retired Illinois State University professor Harold Boyd is pictured in this file photo from Tuesday, August 9, 2011.


The art for sale at Beluga Press contains pieces from when he was a student in Lawrence, Kansas, and throughout his career. During his time at ISU, he influenced hundreds of students, Edge said. This includes some who have since risen to prominence, including Nicolas Africano, Wonsook Kim, Tony Wong and Diego Cortez, the press release said.

One of Boyd’s friends and fellow art faculty members at ISU was painter Harold Gregor, who focused on Midwestern landscapes. The MCAC is hosting an exhibition Friday through August 26 of works by Gregor and more than 50 of his students, many of whom also learned from Boyd.

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Rhea Edge presents exhibition of work by Harold Boyd at his studio and gallery at 313 N. Main St. in downtown Bloomington


Gregor passed away in 2018, as did Ken Holder, who was fellow Boyd and Gregor college.

“It was a time when there was an extremely (talented) rich faculty of artists,” Edge said.


Harold Boyd poses with some of his work in this submitted photo.


The MCAC exhibit, titled “The Painter’s Pedagogy,” is drawing many Boyd and Gregor alumni to town, Edge said. She scheduled her sale to be scheduled around the same time as the opening reception, which is scheduled for 5 p.m. Friday at MCAC, 601 N. East St., Bloomington.

Edge said she was amazed at the number of people in the community who were concerned about Boyd and stepped up to help him create an exhibit shown at MCAC earlier this month and prepare for the sale. .

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The Beluga Press lounge will be open from noon to 9 p.m. on Friday and all day Saturday. Those interested in purchasing Boyd’s work can also visit the Beluga Press website at

“What I want to do is give his life’s work to people who want it,” Edge said.

Contact Connor Wood at (309) 820-3240. Follow Connor on Twitter: @connorkwood

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