Jack Gene Kovatch of Westport, an accomplished artist and educator who devoted his life to his loves of art, anatomy, and teaching, died July 4 in Bridgeport. He was 90.
Jak Kovatch: artist, educator. Contributed photo
He was born on Jan. 17, 1929 in Los Angeles, the son of Jack and LaVinia Blanche (Abernathy) Kovatch.
He spent over 60 years teaching art design students. Most recently he was a Silvermine School of Art faculty member, teaching drawing, figure and anatomy.
In 1949, he first exhibited work at the Los Angeles County Museum — at the age of 20.
Since then he has exhibited paintings, drawings, sculpture and graphics in more than 700 regional, national and international museums, universities and institutions.
They include the Museum of Modern Art (NY), Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Wadsworth Athenaeum (CT), Smithsonian Institution (National Collection of Fine Arts), De Cordova Museum, Lincoln (MA), Metropolitan Museum of Art (Tokyo), Museum of Modern Art, Wakayama (Japan), Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taiwan (Republic of China), and the Barbican Arts Centre (London).
His works are in the collections of the Fogg Museum of Art (Harvard University); the Library of Congress, and The Joseph Hirshhorn Museum at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.
Jak was a student at the University of California at Los Angeles, 1946; student, Chouinard The Art Institute of Chicago, 1947-1949; student, California School Art, Los Angeles, 1949-1950; student, University Southern California, 1951; student, Los Angeles City College, 1955-1956; student, Art Students League, New York City, 1972, 1975.
He began his art career as a student assistant at Lynton Kistler Studio, Los Angeles, 1952-1953, where developed a passion for lithography, which he pursued his entire life.
He painted Mickey Mouse in Fantasia in the staff animation department at Walt Disney in Burbank, California, in 1953. Later Jak was an X-ray technician where he was able to obtain a rare perspective of the human frame.
Later, Jak was an Instructor of drawing and anatomy at Famous Artists Schools, Westport, 1957-1959. He was an art teacher at Roger Ludlowe High School, Fairfield, 1959-1960, then an extension instructor at New York City College, 1959-1960. He was an Instructor of sculpture at Fairfield University in 1967. Jak was faculty at University Bridgeport, 1962-1994, Ethyl professor design, 1988-1994, associate professor department design, 1978-1988, professor design, 1988-1994.
He moved to a faculty position at Silvermine School Art, New Canaan in 1994, teaching drawing, figure and anatomy. He was a visiting faculty at Aldrich Museum Contemporary Art, Ridgefield, 1999.
Jak was a Fellow of the Mellon Foundation, as a visiting faculty Yale University, 1979-1980, 82-83 where Gabor Peterdi was his acting host in drawing and printmaking. Later, he once again returned to Yale as a Mellon Special Fellow.
Jak worked in his studio on Sasco Creek Road in Westport for 50 years painting, sculpting and producing lithographs and teaching interns about lithography. In 2013 Jak was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award for Art by the Westport Arts Advisory Committee.
Memberships: Jak was on the Selection committee of the State of Connecticut Commission on Arts, Percent for Art Program, Hartford, 1987-1988, a Member Society of America Graphic Artists, Boston Printmakers, Audubon Artists (board directors for graphics 1995), Connecticut Academy Fine Arts, Greenwich Art Society, Los Angeles Printmaking Society, Philadelphia Print Club, Silvermine Guild Artists (trustee 1979-1983), Westport-Weston Arts Council.
His biography appears in, or has appeared in, the “Dictionary of International Biography,” “International Who’s Who in Community Service,” “Who’s Who in America,” “Who’s Who in the East,” “Who’s Who in the World,” and “Who’s Who in Society.”
Jak married Carol Jean Wilhelm, on Dec. 24, 1967, who preceded him in death by two years. He is survived by his son, Jason, from a previous marriage.
Contributions of sympathy may be made to the Silvermine Arts Center at https://silvermineart.org/support/