Celeste Spransy Gass
Passed away Thursday, July 22, 2010. Age 91 years. Prominent local artist and loving mother of Gini (Daniel) Holland, Mary (Jim Ito) Laan, and Kenneth (Jane) Gass. She was preceded in death by her beloved husband, artist Alan Gass, and by her son Keith Gass, who died in infancy. Treasured grandmother of Noah Tabakin, Brian Gass, and Eva Gass. Dear sister-in-law of Corinne Johnson; she is survived by many loving nieces, nephews, and their families.
A Milwaukee native and Riverside High School graduate, Celeste went on to graduate Cum Laude from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she met her husband, Alan Gass, with whom she created both a family and a dynamic art studio and business spanning five decades in Milwaukee. Well-known for her brilliantly colored abstract watercolors, she developed a unique and popular Plexiglas medium, which she named Prismatics®. Moving to River West with her daughter Mary after her husband’s death, she was an active artist until her 90th year, and continued to display in shows up through this year.
She served as president and member of the Milwaukee Art Commission for over ten years, was on Mayor Maier’s Beautification Committee and a founding member of Wisconsin Painters and Sculptors (now Wisconsin Visual Artists). She was a charter member and served on the board of Wisconsin Women in the Arts, was an Acquisition Advisor for the Milwaukee Public Library, and served as president and member of the Milwaukee Art Commission. A member of the Lakefront Art Fair Planning committee, she was also board member of the Wisconsin Watercolors Society.
After raising their family on the East Side, she, with her husband, set up one of Milwaukee’s first live-in art studios, originally on Third and State, and then in the Marshall Building in the Third Ward. They were both originators of and active participants in Third Ward Gallery Nights and Art Crawl events. Her work is in public and private collections and galleries across the country, and she has received numerous awards in juried shows, including Watercolor Wisconsin and Wisconsin Women in the Arts. She is also a recipient of the Wisconsin Arts Board Per Cent for Art Award.
An active member of the Unitarian Church and its committees for many years, Celeste was an enthusiastic promoter of liberal social causes. She participated in Civil Rights teach-ins in the 1960s and attended the UN International Women’s Rights convention in Mexico in 1975. She belonged to many organizations, including World Federalists, promoting progressive and humanitarian causes.
Memorial Service at 10:30 AM on Thursday, July 29, 2010, at the First Unitarian Church, 1342 N. Astor St. (Astor Street at Ogden). Interment Wisconsin Memorial Park. If desired, memorials to the Habitat for Humanity, the Wisconsin Humane Society, or the charity of your choice.
Her family extends special thanks to in-home hospice caregivers and her many relatives and friends for their visits, messages, support, and love in Celeste’s final days. Her love of art was equaled only by her love of family and friends. Her enthusiasm, insights, wit, artistic talent, and lively spirit will be deeply missed.
Suminski Family Funeral Homes
Suminski / Weiss