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J Arthur Sanders: A Painter's Vision

Updated: Sep 30, 2021

Guided by his deep spiritual faith in communion with his inner creative voice, Muskegon Heights-based painter, J Arthur Sanders states emphatically, “I have been an artist my whole life – I just have to paint!” Examples of Mr. Sanders' exuberant painting legacy will be on display at the Arts Council of White Lake – Nuveen Center – September 17 – October 30. The ACWL-Nuveen is honored that Mr. Sanders took time away from his dedicated studio practice to coordinate this solo exhibition of nine large-scale oil paintings.

Mr. Sanders, a prolific painter, received his MFA from Western Michigan University with additional study at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and the Instituto Allende in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. His distinctly expressive canvases are sought after by private collectors and have been exhibited in venues around the world including galleries in New York, Paris, and Mexico. His paintings are also included in the permanent collections of the Grand Rapids Art Museum, Muskegon Museum of Art, Battle Creek Art Center and Muskegon Community College.

Lake Michigan #4 - Oil - 5' x 3' Lake Michigan Sunset #24 - Oil - 24" x 36"

Even though Mr. Sanders knew as a child that he had a natural artistic talent and had received recognition from his family and community for his drawing and painting skills, his path to becoming a full-time professional artist took some interesting twists and turns. As a young man he pursued different passions, first becoming a licensed Master Barber, and then training and boxing as a professional middleweight. Back in the day he even served as a sparring partner to Muhammed Ali. But his dreams in the ring were suddenly quashed after a car accident in Texas damaged his left arm, cancelling his ability to land a solid left hook. While undergoing physical therapy, he was reminded of his love of art and in particular painting. He removed the boxing gloves and substituted paint brushes, filling both hands with a fistful, loading them all with different colors of paint. He took his explosive sparring energy and directed it toward the canvas. Dancing, bobbing, and jabbing at his canvases directed by an internal drive that he describes as, “like being in a trance”. A deeply spiritual man, he always gets on his knees before starting a painting and prays for God’s guidance. These private conversations then fuel his signature painting style which can be described as kinetically impressionistic; his artwork radiates energy.

As well as being a dedicated artist, Mr. Sanders is also a gifted teacher. He spent many years teaching art in the Muskegon Heights school district at the Middle and High School level where he had a lasting impact on many students’ lives. About the significance of art education Mr. Sanders states, “I was able to get kids to create art to help them be successful not only in art class but also in other parts of the curriculum”. His enthusiasm for art is infectious, whether he is in the classroom, studio, gallery or out on location painting he is always willing to talk with anyone about art and share his passion with them.

The public will have an opportunity to meet Mr. Sanders during a reception for the artist at the ACWL-Nuveen, Thursday September 23, between 5:00 – 7:00pm. The exhibit can be viewed September 17 – October 30 - Tuesday through Friday 11:00am – 5:30pm and Saturdays from 11:00am – 3:00pm. The ACWL-Nuveen is located at 106 E. Colby Street, downtown Whitehall, Michigan. Call (231) 893-2524 for more information or visit This is an exhibit you will not want to miss!


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