Donald S. Wilf, 84, artist

Posted: February 06, 2012

Donald S. Wilf, 84, an artist who owned Donald Stanley Inc., an interior-design company in Ardmore, from 1959 to 2011, died of pneumonia Sunday, Jan. 15, at his Haverford home.

His partner, Dr. Peter Arger, said in a phone interview that "his paintings have a theatricality of another time and place when manners, gestures, and presence" were respected.

"Faces were deliberately eliminated in some paintings because facial features can be a distraction."

One of Mr. Wilf's earliest group shows was at an artists' guild in Ardmore in 1961, Arger said, and his last was at the 3rd Street Gallery in Old City in 2009.

In 2004, Mr. Wilf's work was in a show at Da Vinci Art Alliance, near Seventh and Catharine Streets, that featured the Painters' Circle, a group of 12 artists from the Main Line Art Center in Haverford.

In 2002, his sculpture of a dog was stationed across the street from the Haverford post office, part of "Art Unleashed," a show of 50 dog figures at Main Line sites.

Born in Philadelphia, Mr. Wilf graduated from what is now the University of the Arts in Center City, where he won a student competition for the set design of a television studio, a contest judged by Broadway theatrical designer Jo Meilziner.

Arger said that Mr. Wilf was resident designer for the modern-dance department at the University of Pennsylvania from 1946 to 1948 and that he designed catalogs and costumes from 1949 to 1953 for the Center City dance-wear firm Baum's while freelancing as a costume designer for showgirls at the Latin Casino nightclub in Cherry Hill.

He was a producer and designer of summer revues at the Log Tavern in Milford, Pa., from 1953 to 1957, Arger said.

After consulting for a former wallpaper and fabrics firm in Wilmington, he opened his own firm in 1959.

Besides his partner, Mr. Wilf is survived by a brother, Jerome.

A private service took place in January.


Contact staff writer Walter F. Naedele at 215-854-5607 or wnaedele@phillynews.com.

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