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Posted on Fri, Mar 2, 2012 : 10:51 a.m.

Ypsi-based artist Fay Kleinman dead at 99

By Staff

Fay Kleinman, also known by her married name, Fay Levenson, died on February 21, due to complications from a broken hip.

Born in 1912, Kleinman exhibited at the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield Massachusetts and in galleries in New York City and Western Massachusetts. Among the New York City galleries that have shown her work are ACA, Uptown Gallery, Creative Arts Gallery, Madison-New Directions Gallery, and Brooklyn Arts Gallery (Brooklyn Heights). In 1971, she co-founded the Becket Arts Center in Becket, Massachusetts. Her works are represented in many collections in the United States and abroad. She has also been an art teacher and art festival judge.

Kleinman moved to Ypsilanti from the East Coast in 1987. In Michigan, her work has been shown at Warren Robbins Gallery of the University of Michigan School of Art, UM Hospital Works of Art, Ann Arbor District Library (Ordinary People, a portrait exhibit at the main branch, and the Zayde paintings at Mallets Creek), Ypsilanti District Library, Jewish Community Center, and Gallery 55+. Her painting, "Randy," was purchased by the Ypsilanti District Library; "Sunday Morning" was purchased by the U-M East Ann Arbor Health Center. She studied at the American Artists School: murals with Anton Refregier, painting with Jean Liberte, and sculpture with Milton Hebald. She also took classes through the WPA, City College of New York, and the National Academy of Design.

"I last saw (Kleinman's) work in January 2006 at the Ann Arbor District Library, and I was struck by her willingness to stretch herself at an age (well into her late 80s and early 90s) when most artists would consider retirement in all forms," said art writer John Cantu in an e-mail. "Such vigorous exercise at such an advanced age is exceedingly rare in any artist, but she seemed to be working well beyond the consolidation of her earlier work.

"I’ve found most artists find a manner, and they stick with it for through the balance of their mature career. But Kleinman seemed to liberate her palette in her later years and find a joy in color that had been relatively subdued in her earlier work. As such, she was seemingly one of those exceedingly fortunate talents to have to opportunity to grow into her art. The volume (and especially the quality) of her output in 2006 was positively enthralling."

Kleinman is survived by her daughter Davi (Greg) Napoleon of Ann Arbor, grandsons Brian (of Ann Arbor) and Randy (Alison) Napoleon (of New York City), nephew Joel (Jayne) Kleinman (of Meredin CT), and niece Jacqueline Skurnick Roach (of New York City). She was pre-deceased by two husbands, Jack Skurnick and Emanuel Levenson.