Paula Z. Kirkeby
On Friday, April 1, the de Saisset Museum lost a dear friend. Paula Z. Kirkeby was the owner of Smith Andersen Editions and a relentless advocate for artists, all the way up to her last day. Three decades ago our relationship began when she entrusted the de Saisset Museum with the Smith Andersen Editions Archive representing some of the most important California artists of our time. She facilitated many other gifts to our institution and we are forever grateful. But more importantly, we will miss her laughs, her unique perspectives, her storytelling moments, and the precious times we spent together. We will miss her, but somehow right now it is comforting to know she left her mark on our institution.
Paula was born in Lynn, Massachusetts; she grew up in Dorchester, Massachusetts, and fondly remembered being surrounded by artists and culture in her youth. Paula moved to Palo Alto, California, after marrying Stuart Kaplan in 1955. In October 1969, Paula and her second husband, Phillip Kirkeby, opened Smith-Andersen Gallery.
Smith-Andersen Gallery was to be Paula's lifework. Soon after opening, it became a hub of cultural activity and rapidly put Palo Alto in the "art scene." The gallery represented nationally and internationally known artists including Sam Francis, Bruce Conner and Ed Moses; it also worked with Nathan Oliveira, Frank Lobdell and Keith Boyle, who were on the Stanford faculty. Right up into 2016, many outstanding artists were supported by the gallery and benefited from Paula's generosity. Paula believed artists should be given support while they were living, and she lived this belief.
Smith-Andersen Gallery expanded to include the production of aquatint and monotype print-making and invited artists to work in-residence to produce works of fine art. These works have found homes, and are loved, the world over. Paula was a staunch advocate for monotype printing as a fine art at a time before it was in favor. Close relationships were forged with major Bay Area institutions including the de Saisset Museum at Santa Clara University, Stanford University and the Achenbach Foundation. Paula was much loved and respected by a great number of people from many walks of life, and she will be remembered in part by the lasting legacy she left through charitable donations, time she spent with people who purchased their first works of art, and her passion and inspiration that she freely shared with artists. The art community has lost a creative and caring patron and the void will be difficult to fill.
Paula continued to run Smith-Anderson Gallery after her husband Phillip passed away in October 2011; she operated the gallery and print studio and hosted exhibitions. Her energy and passion seemed endless. As the 2016 spring equinox approached, Paula fell ill and was cared for by her sons and daughters-in-law, yet she still managed Smith-Andersen from her bedside until her family, their hands in hers, bid her farewell.
Paula is survived by her three sons and six grandchildren.
submitted Apr. 5, 2016 1:57P