Clarence E. Van Duzer was born November 12, 1920, in Pittsburgh. He was six years old when his family came to Cleveland, and he graduated from West Technical High School. He would become one of Cleveland's most collected and widely exhibited artists, with work in the collections of the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Butler Institute in Youngstown, the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh and the National Academy of Design in New York, among others. He was also commercially successful, as the "go-to" sculptor for shopping malls built by the Jacobs Group. His public sculpture can be found in 11 states, including what is probably his best-known work to Clevelanders, "Global Flight and Celebration," which was installed at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport in 1976. He passed away Thursday, January 29, at the age of 88.
Van Duzer was one of the last students of the Cleveland School of Art, predecessor to the Cleveland Institute of Art. He earned his B.F.A. in Arts Education at Western Reserve University in 1945. World War II raged while he studied, and he did his part, working nights on B-29s at Fisher Aircraft. In 1947 he earned an M.F.A. at Yale. During the next 10 years, he served on several art-school faculties before returning to Cleveland to teach drawing at CIA until he retired as professor emeritus in 1989. He continued to work in his studio daily and had solo shows as recently as 2006 at Cleveland's Convivium 33 and 2008 at the Museum of Florida Art. Van Duzer met Kathy Lynn in the late '70s, when he was one of the first to buy land in the Cleveland Flats. He designed and built his studio there, and she had a studio in what would become the "Left Bank" building. She and her friends referred to him as the "Art God" and would make note of "Van Duzer sightings." She recalls that she was silk-screening T-shirts for a Party in the Park one day when "a tall, handsome figure placed two fingers in his mouth to call her with one of those whistles." He called her "Artist" and made her a wooden "T" form to help her sell the shirts. They exchanged phone numbers on a torn matchbook cover. They were together for 30 years. She doesn't hesitate in describing him.
"He was tall and thin, with this white mane. He was level, solid, sound, disciplined, strong, confident, and when he spoke … that was it. He was a magnificent man."