The unbelievable story behind Max Starkloff

    HEC-TV’s Sharon Stevens and the Bruno David Gallery are pleased to introduce you to a retrospective exhibition of paintings by Max Starkloff. In conjunction with the exhibition Max Starkloff: A Retrospective; Bruno David Gallery Publications will publish a catalog on the artist’s work with an exhibition history and bibliography and texts by Robert Duffy and Charles E. Claggett.

    In 1959, at the age of 21, Max Starkloff was in a car accident that left him paralyzed from the neck down. His doctors doubted he would live longer than a few days and, if he survived, his quality of life would be diminished. Max’s mother divorced and supported three children, trying for nearly four years to care for Max at home before reluctantly placing him in a nursing home managed by Franciscan Monks in Eureka, Missouri.

    Max, aged 25, was sent to a facility for men, whose average age was 80. In the nursing home, Max met Brother Matthew, a 40-year-old Franciscan artist. He offered to teach Max how to paint holding the brush clenched between his teeth. Brother Matthew positioned Max close to the canvas, squeezed tubes of colors onto the palette, and began teaching Max how to draw simple shapes. By the winter of 1964, only four months after meeting Brother Matthew, Max began painting six hours a day.

    In 1969, his sense of perception was shifting. While watching television as the Civil Rights Movement unfolded, Max began to wonder whether his rights and others with disabilities were being addressed. He gave up painting and became a leader in the movement for independent living and disability rights. He co-founded the Paraquad organization with his wife Colleen in 1970, and established it as one of the first 10 federally funded Independent Living Centers in the nation. Additionally, in 1983, he co-founded the National Council on Independent Living (with Marca Bristo, Judy Heumann, Lex Frieden and Charlie Carr).

    Max would go on to establish the Starkloff Disability Institute in 2003. Max Starkloff’s legacy of dedication to the ongoing fight for Civil Rights has changed the face of our nation, helping America to redefine the meaning of independence for the 21st century. Starkloff lobbied for legislation for curb cuts and disabled parking, as well as for the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. He won a President’s Distinguished Service Award in 1991, and was awarded a star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame. Max Starkloff was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1937. He passed away in December 2010.
    The exhibition Max Starkloff: A Retrospective is open to the public from March 27 to June 27, 2015. In the Media Arts Room, the gallery presents a short documentary (9:20 min) Max Starkloff: A Life by Gary Womack, on the life of Max Starkloff and his legacy as a Civil Rights leader and as an artist.

    Take a look at all St. Louis are gallery exhibitions, here.

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