Volume 1, Issue 2, Winter 2023
“The development of blind gesture in my work has, I believe, philosophical implications in that the ‘organic,’ the convoluted, richly varied forms/shapes, line moving helter-skelter reflect ideas related to the nature of life in its fragmentation, unpredictability, and quality of chaos.”
—Harold Zisla, journal entry.
Welcome to the second issue of Gesture, a quarterly newsletter designed to keep you informed about Harold Zisla’s art.

Zisla treasure trove arrives at Indiana University

The Indiana University Archives in Bloomington invited the Zisla family to donate material to the collection. Over the past several years, staff members have assisted with the gift. In particular, Bradley Cook, photograph curator, was instrumental to the process. The donation became official December 5, 2022.
Among the items the public, scholars, and students will be able to explore are:
  • Forty-eight sketchbooks containing approximately 2,900 drawings.
  • Notebooks of Zisla’s observations about his own work and the work of others, totaling nearly 1,000 pages.
  • Material related to exhibitions, such as invitations and catalogs.
  • Programs from guest appearances.
  • Newspaper and magazine articles.
  • Speeches, lecture notes, photographs, and correspondence.
  • Artifacts from his industrial design work at Ball Band, a division of Uniroyal in Mishawaka, Indiana, including original artwork and ads for products he designed.
Proposal for the sole of a women’s tennis shoe, 1954.

Poem for 2022 Ekphrastic event captures essence of Zisla’s personality and work

Since 2016, the South Bend Museum of Art (SBMA) has hosted an annual Ekphrastic event, during which poets read poems for which artworks have been catalysts. Designed to coincide with National Poetry Month in April, the 2023 event will take place on April 20th. Learn more about participating or attending. 

In 2022, Michael Lasater, professor emeritus of mass communications at IU South Bend, read Zisla, based in part on a 1965 self-portrait. The museum produced a chapbook for the 2022 event, selecting the Zisla self-portrait for the cover.
The poem was originally published in February 2022 by The Coop: A Poetry Cooperative as Discovering a New Painter. Lasater met the artist only once, in 2012.
Titled The Weak Prince Who Became King, this acrylic by Zisla inspired Scott Morgan to write Monarch of Malaise for the 2019 Ekphrastic evening.

75th anniversary celebration of SBMA showcases new Zisla acquisition

The “Becoming SBMA: Stories from Our Collection” exhibition has continued into 2023. Recently, staff members placed the museum’s latest Zisla acquisition—the fourth self-portrait in their collection—on Zisla’s easel, which has been prominently displayed in the gallery since the show opened. Zisla served as the executive director from 1957 until 1966, when the institution was known as the South Bend Art Center. The permanent collection includes 27 Zisla works.
The most recent Zisla self-portrait in the museum’s collection was painted in the artist’s final style, the style that for him was the culmination of more than 65 years of thought and “mileage.”

Estate-sale find brings exciting addition to unusual collection

A man who did not know Zisla or his work purchased a signed Zisla at an estate sale because its subject matched the focus of his collection: images of men with beards. He contacted the Zisla family in the hopes of getting the signature authenticated. Without seeing the painting, it wasn’t possible to provide a definitive answer, but the rendering of the letters, use of red, and placement of the name in an upper corner were all features of one of Zisla’s many distinctive signature styles.

Zisla’s family is always interested in learning where his work is, so if you buy a piece at an estate sale, purchase something online, or inherit a work, please use the contact form on his website to reach out.

Want to see more of Zisla's art?

You can view Zisla’s art on the website and on Instagram. Many works are available for sale in the shop on the website. If you find a painting or work on paper that you’d like to own—elsewhere on the site or on Instagram—simply get in touch to learn about next steps.
Contact Us


Although Zisla died on March 18, 2016, the audience for his work remains, and the stewards of the collection are identifying new venues for showing and selling it. You’ll receive an update quarterly, but feel free to be in touch at any time to ask questions or share memories. Use the contact form on the website at
Prefer to not receive the newsletter? Use the “Unsubscribe” link at the bottom of this email to opt out. Conversely, if you know others who would enjoy hearing about Zisla, please let them know that they can sign up for future issues on the website. If you missed the inaugural issue, you can read it here.
Design by HoneyBell Media LLC


Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp

Copyright © 2023 Zisla, LLC. All rights reserved.