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A Kansas Art Sampler
October 23 - February 6, 2005
(above: John Philip Falter, American, 1910-1982, Newsboy, 1951, Oil on canvas. Source unknown, 0000.0146)
When Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow stole a sand-colored Ford V-8 sedan from a private Topeka residence in 1934, little did they know it would be their last getaway car. Seventy years after Bonnie and Clyde met their violent end in rural Louisiana, Abilene artist Randy Regier offers the infamous vehicle in the form of a toy, complete with life-like blood, bullet holes, and packaging consistent with those used for model cars manufactured in the early to mid twentieth century. (right: E. Hubert Deines, American, 1894-1967, Born near Russell, Active in Russell and Kansas City, Joy on Kaw Valley Loam, 1946, Wood engraving. Museum purchase, 1979.0067)
Regier's interpretation of the bullet-riddled vehicle is part of A Kansas Art Sampler, on view in the Spencer's White Gallery from October 23 through February 6, 2005. Organized by Kate Meyer, curatorial assistant in the department of prints and drawings, the exhibition highlights notable and visionary work either related to the state and its history, or produced by Kansas artists, and is organized in conjunction with Kansas Art and Culture, an art history course offered this fall by Professors Charles C. Eldredge and Charles M. Berg.
A Kansas Art Sampleris sponsored by Gould Evans Associates, LC. The exhibition will highlight notable and visionary work that is either related to the state and its history, or produced by Kansas artists. The objects selected emphasize topics covered in the class, such as Bleeding Kansas, issues of race, environment and land use, as well as perceptions of the region. The exhibition includes loaned work by Regier and New York artist Joe Coleman, as well as recent acquisitions to the Spencer's collection by Robert Swain Gifford and Lisa Grossman.
Kate Meyer, curatorial assistant in the department of prints and drawings, organized the exhibition. She notes that contemporary artists who investigate Kansas do so with an individually distinct vision. Some modern representations of Kansas or Kansans -- such as those produced by Kara Walker or Coleman -- draw upon the radical social foundation of Bleeding Kansas. Others, meanwhile, consider aspects of the Kansas prairie -- the ways in which it extols an idyllic agrarian harmony or the negative aspects of our attempts to dominate nature. Such artists' perceptions of contemporary Kansas concern ecology, spirituality, and an attempt to recapture an indigenous past. Their work can be seen as part of a regional legacy that emerged when artists such as Gifford and Andrew Butler recorded the Kansas plains while traveling through the state to the frontier in the nineteenth century. The legacy thrived in the 1930s and '40s, thanks to groups like the Prairie Print Makers, represented in this exhibition by works from Birger Sandzén, Charles Capps, C.A. Seward, Herschel Logan, and others. Kansas continues to captivate and fascinate contemporary artists, including Grossman, Terry Evans, and Larry Schwarm. (right: Richard Basil Mock, American, born 1944, Kansas, 1999, Linoleum cut with hand coloring. Museum purchase: Letha Churchill Walker Memorial Art Fund, 2000.0063)
The state also serves as a subject for non-native artists such as Richard Mock, who parodies the stereotype of Kansas conservatism in a print related to the recent controversy over the instruction of evolution in high school curriculum. Be they from Kansas or from elsewhere, artists find relevant subject matter in this beautiful but challenging place.
Related public events include:
(above: Birger Sandzén, American, 1871-1954, Active in Lindsborg, Sunflowers, Photomechanical relief print. Gift of Bud and Ruby Jennings, Prairie Print Makers Collection, 1991.0421)
1. See the Spencer Museum of Art web site for the Prairie Print Makers.
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