Ronald Allen Kleemann, 76, died on May 31 at the Timberlyn Heights Nursing Home in Great Barrington, MA of complications from dementia. Born on July 24, 1937 in Bay City, Michigan, he was the son of Walter and Corinne (Falk) Kleemann. He was graduated from the University of Michigan in 1961 with a B.F.A. from the School of Architecture and Design, where he received his training in sculpture and painting. Just out of college, he moved to New York City to work and live as an artist. In 1972, he became a resident of Columbia County, NY, living in Stockport for 35 years and then moving to Valatie in 2007.
Once in New York City, his original medium was sculpture but he soon became more interested in painting. After a few years of pounding the pavements looking for a gallery to represent him, his work was accepted to show by a few galleries. He finally became well-known as a photorealist artist in the early ‘70s after being represented by the Louis K. Meisel gallery in SoHo. He has remained with Meisel, who coined the name Photorealism, ever since. His work is owned by major museums, such as the Guggenheim and MOMA in New York, and modern collectors, and regularly appears in both solo and group shows all over the world. He is studied by students and artists, and a full overview of his life and work is available online in the Smithsonian Institute’s Archives of American Art, which includes an extensive interview and his personal and work-related papers.
Ron is survived by his wife of 35 years, Sarah (Woolworth) Kleemann and his step-daughter Tracey Houlihan; his second wife, Margaret Gilliam and son Gunnar (Karen) Kleemann, and two granddaughters; his first wife, Susan Beudel, and two daughters, Wendy Diehl and Kris (Kelly) Ryon and three granddaughters; and by his beloved dogs, Fiona and Ronni.
Ron loved painting, travel, animals and people. Thanks to his art, he was able to travel throughout the United States and Europe, always taking pictures and looking for his next subject to paint. He painted race cars, fire engines, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons, airplanes, and many other subjects that caught his eye. Most of his paintings were sharply realistic, often featuring reflections. He always said he loved shiny objects. In the ‘90’s, when the painting business was slow, Ron spent 10 years as a counselor for Coarc, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit agency that provides programs and services to people with developmental disabilities in Columbia County. He was an avid ballroom dancer, and he and his wife could often be seen at local dances and balls in the area. His humor and stories were legendary among all who knew him. He was greatly loved and will be missed.
At his request, there will be no funeral, but a private memorial service for friends and family will be held at a later date. Memorial donations can be made to the Columbia-Greene Humane Society, 125 Humane Society Rd, Hudson, NY12534; and COARC, P.O. Box 2, 630 Route 217, Mellenville, NY12544.