By Shelby Clark Petkus
The renowned Robert Kidd Gallery will close its doors this summer. The Birmingham institution, founded by Ray Frost Fleming and Robert Louis Kidd, established “a vibrant institution that has long been a distinguished leader in the world of contemporary art.”
According to Benjamin Kiehl, director of the gallery for nearly a decade, the gallery’s closing comes at the decision of the administrators of the Ray Fleming estate. “Fleming has been dead for two-and-a-half years,” Kiehl notes. “The gallery closing is how the asset settled in his trust. He had no children, and the asset needed to be dealt with, and as a result, the business is closing.”
Kiehl goes on to say, “The gallery is an asset that will be greatly missed. Robert Kidd Gallery had been around longer than so many other art galleries that have closed throughout the years. It’s the ending of an era.”
The possibility of the gallery’s continuation is not off the table, though Fleming’s estate will have no part in the future. “The administration hopes to deal with the gallery’s transition by the end of the summer,” Kiehl states. “For now, we have no set closing date.”
Opened in 1976, the two graduates of the Cranbrook Academy of Art created a 5,000-square-foot space featuring room for exhibitions, on-site inventory facilities and expansive viewer-accesible artwork archives. The two-level gallery was an original member of the Detroit Art Dealers Association as well as a direct representative for the estates of Milton Avery, Harry Bertoia, Hans Hofmann and Marshall Fredericks. Robert Kidd Gallery also offered services for the acquisitioning and de-accessioning of artwork by modern and contemporary artists such as Richard Diebenkorn, Franz Kline, Alexander Calder, Deborah Butterfield and Hans Hofmann.
During its four-decade run, the gallery served as one of the finest collections of available artwork in the Midwest. From abstract to realist paintings to sculpture and drawings, diverse works of art have filled the halls of the gallery. Many notable artists that have had works exhibited include John Chamberlain, Sam Gilliam, Larry Rivers and Helen Rankenthaler.
Recent exhibits included the new paintings of Stephen Duren, the oil artworks of Robert Schefman and “Deep Thaw: An Emergence of New and Recent Acquisitions” that ran in the spring. Currently, a gallery exhibition featuring a survey of the gallery’s extensive inventory will be held until Aug. 2.
“We appreciate your many years of patronage and friendship and invite all to visit the gallery on Townsend Street during this time” is the fond farewell offered on the site following the news of its closing.
The gallery will continue to exhibit and offer artwork through the summer.
Robert Kidd Gallery is located at 107 Townsend St., Birmingham. Regular gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday or by appointment. For more information, visit http://www.robertkiddgallery.com or call 248-642-3909.