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Ronald (Gustin) Ahlstrom

1922 - 2012

Ronald Ahlstrom was born in Chicago in 1922. After serving in the second world war he returned to Chicago and studied painting at the School of the Art Institute. In the early 1960s, Ahlstrom worked as the curator at the Tacoma Art Museum in Tacoma, WA. A talented painter and artist, Alhstrom was also a noted bass fiddler and guitarist. He often played professionally in night clubs during the late 1940s and ‘50s.


Ahlstrom exhibited his artwork nationally, including shows at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., among others. In 1958, he was awarded the William H. Bartels Prize at the Art Institute of Chicago. Ahlstrom became most recognized for his intricate and subtle abstract compositions that often integrated painting, drawing and collage. In 1962, together with his colleagues and fellow-abstractionists Robert Nickle, Morris Barazani, Harry Bouras, George Kokines, and George Waite, he exhibited at McCormick Place in an independently produced survey of contemporary Chicagoans, under the banner 12 Chicago Artists.


An adept and sensitive painter, Ahlstrom's most personal work is as an abstract expressionist collage maker. Using strips of paper, sometimes weathered and beaten into rough hewn surfaces, he creates immaculately layered, lively, gestural compositions. 

Ahlstrom died at the age of 90 in Chicago in 2012.

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