Looking Back on a Lifetime of Painting

Photo: Courtesy Cal Holman

At Stanford, Charles “Bud” Holman II, ’48, MA ’50, remembers sweeping the floors of the art museum and helping an archaeology professor piece together hundreds of pottery fragments at long tables in a basement. But soon he was on to more glamorous endeavors in New York City, including a stint in the international department of the Museum of Modern Art. At the esteemed architectural firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, he helped curate Chase Manhattan Bank’s multimillion-dollar art collection. All along the way, he painted.

After spending the past 43 years in the Southwest, Holman saw his devotion to art on display in his hometown of Topeka, Kan., from July to December at the Mulvane Art Museum, which featured some 60 pieces of his work in a retrospective. “For more than seven decades, Bud Holman has created a deeply felt body of work that explores and maps the landscape of the human spirit,” museum director Connie Gibbons wrote in a description of the exhibit. “Holman is first and foremost a colorist with an unflinching eye for the nuances of reflected light.”

At 90, despite his macular degeneration, Holman wakes each day before the sun comes up, paints for four to five hours, rests, and then paints some more. “My parents taught me to never be idle—always to have your hands working,” Holman says.