By Associated Press - Sunday, March 1, 2020

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) - Paintings by a former art professor that would have been thrown away now are on display at Western Michigan University.

Forty of Dwayne Lowder’s paintings, donated to the university, will be part of an exhibition that presents nearly 50 years of his work, WOOD-TV reported.

The exhibition at the Richmond Center for Visual Arts in Kalamazoo mostly is a display of paintings, but it also showcases Lowder’s sculptures, photography and work in stained glass. It runs through March 8.

“For all of us who knew him, he was our Leonardo Da Vinci,” said John Carney, a friend and former WMU colleague. “I don’t care what it was, whatever he did, it was fabulous.”

Carney learned the art was tucked away in Lowder’s attic after he died in 2018. There were no provisions in his will, so the paintings were transferred to Radford University in Virginia, which didn’t have enough space for them.

Carney took possession of the paintings and made arrangements to donate 40 to WMU.

“It’s an incredible feeling of relief, and I think it would have been just heartbreaking had these paintings not see the light of day,” said Indra Lacis, director of exhibits.

Lowder was a member of the WMU faculty from 1966 to 1982. He retired to rural Virginia, where he operated an orchid farm and continued to create art.

Carney shared space with Lowder for many years.

“You could get to know him up to a certain level and there was always a little bit of distance,” he said.

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