Archive for Thursday, August 13, 1998


August 13, 1998


An upcoming Spencer Museum of Art exhibit of work by people with Kansas ties runs simultaneously with a show of John Steuart Curry paintings and drawings at Nelson-Atkins Museum.

Painter John Steuart Curry, sculptor Anna Larkin, architect William Griffith and potter Maria Benson are bound together by their diverse art.

Evidence of their ties, ``Kansas Art and Artists,'' will comprise a special exhibit Aug. 15 to Jan. 3 in Spencer Museum of Art at Kansas University.

It will run in conjunction with a major exposition of Curry's work at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Mo.

The 30-piece show at KU honors the regionalism art movement that reached a peak in the Great Depression and emphasized American subject matter, particularly scenes of the rural Midwest.

Curry, a major player in the regionalist movement, is a native Kansan who painted stunning murals in the Kansas Capitol, including the raging John Brown against a stormy, war-torn Kansas landscape.

Two of Curry's paintings, including the 1923 oil-on-canvas ``Code of the West,'' and four works on paper will be in the university's exhibit.

But other artists in KU's show, some of whom found their stroke before Curry's heydey and some of whom hit their prime after Curry's rise to prominence, did much to celebrate Kansas through their art.

``We've included people surrounding Curry ... to compliment him. It's a special focus on Kansas artists and Kansas scenes,'' said Susan Earle, the Spencer's curator of European and American art.

Exhibit highlights:

  • Larkin, who was born in Sweden in 1855 and died in McPherson, will be represented with a white pine sculpture of ``Sanding Woman.''
  • Griffith, an architect raised in Lawrence, taught at KU from 1899 to 1920 and founded the university's painting and art department. His contribution is the 1926 painting of ``Desert in Bloom.''
  • Benson, who joined two other potters to start an experimental ceramics lab at KU around 1910, has in the show a vase made from native clay, known as Kanza Ware.
  • Raymond Eastwood, who taught at KU from 1922 to 1968, will be recognized through his painting, ``Cape Cod Landscape.''
  • Birger Sandzen, who lived in Lindsborg for 60 years and taught at Bethany College, will be represented by his 1945 oil-on-board painting of ``Smoky River in Autumn.''

``He's extremely popular in Kansas,'' Earle said.

Charles Eldredge, a Hall distinguished professor of American art, will teach a graduate seminar this fall based in part on the KU exhibition. Eldredge collaborated on the show with the Spencer's department of European and American art.

The Nelson-Atkins exhibit, ``John Steuart Curry: Inventing the Middle West,'' runs Oct. 11 to Jan. 3. The traveling show's 35 oil paintings and 10 drawings is the first comprehensive presentation of Curry's work in more than 25 years. Curry died in 1946 in Madison, Wis.

-- Tim Carpenter's phone message number is 832-7155. His e-mail address is

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