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Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

Lawrencian’s painting of Quantrill’s raid is a conversation piece across the border

August 19, 2013

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This painting of Quantrill's raid, painted in the 1940s or 1950s by Lawrence resident Paul Penny, now hangs on the Missouri side of the border, in relative David Alburty's office in Drexel.

This painting of Quantrill's raid, painted in the 1940s or 1950s by Lawrence resident Paul Penny, now hangs on the Missouri side of the border, in relative David Alburty's office in Drexel.

Paul Penny, 88, is pictured in his studio in the basement of his Old West Lawrence home. In front of him is a painting he did long ago of the 1951 flood, and behind him is a work in progress of the Kansas University campus. Around the 1950s, Penny painted a picture of Quantrill's raid that now hangs on the Missouri side of the state line.

Paul Penny, 88, is pictured in his studio in the basement of his Old West Lawrence home. In front of him is a painting he did long ago of the 1951 flood, and behind him is a work in progress of the Kansas University campus. Around the 1950s, Penny painted a picture of Quantrill's raid that now hangs on the Missouri side of the state line.

Paul Penny's basement storage area is full of paintings he's done over the years, including many landscapes of Lawrence and national parks. Penny's circa-1950 painting of Quantrill's raid on Lawrence now hangs in a relative's office in Drexel, Mo.

Paul Penny's basement storage area is full of paintings he's done over the years, including many landscapes of Lawrence and national parks. Penny's circa-1950 painting of Quantrill's raid on Lawrence now hangs in a relative's office in Drexel, Mo.

A painting of Quantrill's raid done by former Lawrence resident Addie Underwood Penny, mother of Lawrence artist Paul Penny. This painting now belongs to Addie Penny's granddaughter, April Bruce Stewart.

A painting of Quantrill's raid done by former Lawrence resident Addie Underwood Penny, mother of Lawrence artist Paul Penny. This painting now belongs to Addie Penny's granddaughter, April Bruce Stewart.

In the 1950s, there was a painting of Quantrill’s raid by Lawrence artist Paul Penny floating around town.

It hung inside Drake’s Bakery on Massachusetts Street and then for a while at Penny’s Old West Lawrence home. Or maybe it was the other way around — that was a long time ago, Penny said, and he can’t remember for sure. After that, the painting spent about 30 years above Penny’s brother-in-law’s mantel in Leawood.

Now, Penny’s rendition of Quantrill sacking Lawrence has migrated to the Missouri side of the state line, where it’s quite the conversation starter.

“People walking by can look in the window and see it,” said David Alburty, who has the painting at his office building at 135 E. Main St. in downtown Drexel. “Sometimes they think this is an art gallery and they come walking in.”

After Alburty’s father in Leawood decided on a mantel art change, Alburty jumped at the chance to display the painting — which is large, almost the width of an armspan. Alburty is CEO of a lab equipment manufacturing company called InnovaPrep, which takes up several nearby addresses, and he thought a spacious brick wall inside the 1890s building where he has his office would be just the place for the painting.

The painting was one of Penny’s earlier works, and it isn’t one of the artist’s all-time favorites. But Alburty loves it.

“I think it’s an awesome painting,” Alburty said. “It’s incredible to look at up close and see all the detail.”

There are multiple horses — including a central, raring horse bearing Quantrill himself, brandishing a pistol — as well as torches, guns, the Eldridge in flames and a woman with a baby looking as if she was scared out of her wits, Alburty said.

Drexel, in Cass County, was in the fray of border war activity. The county was one of several the Union Army ordered evacuated in response to Quantrill’s raid, a move designed to deprive guerrillas like Quantrill of support but which spawned deep resentment by forcing even innocent women, children and elderly people from their homes and farms.

Many Drexel area residents’ roots go way back, Alburty said, and seeing the Quantrill painting elicits family stories about the Civil War.

Penny’s mother, Addie Underwood Penny, was a Kansas University graduate and longtime art teacher who started teaching him painting and drawing when he was about 11. Penny wasn’t necessarily a Civil War buff but was inspired by a painting his mother had done of the raid.

“I just thought it was a historical event that I wanted to do,” he said. “My mother painted it, and she thought I ought to paint it, too.”

Penny’s more typical work includes landscapes of the Flint Hills, Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Canyon and Lawrence. Unlike the Quantrill’s raid painting, most of his locally inspired canvases depict scenes and historical events he’s seen himself — the 1951 flood, the 1993 flood, fireworks over the gazebo in South Park and KU’s Marvin Grove, to name a few.

Penny, now 88, continues to paint prolifically — and still in great detail.

“I have fun,” he said. “I lose myself doing it.”

Comments

irvan moore 1 year, 1 month ago

Paul is a great guy and a true Lawrence treasure

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FlintlockRifle 1 year, 1 month ago

I have know this fellow for many years and spent a lot of time with him fishing, hunting mushrooms, and cutting fire wood, There is only one ""Paul"" Thanks ole friend=====

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fiddleback 1 year, 1 month ago

It's well-executed (no pun intended), but it also reminds me of pulp western magazine covers of the 50's, and I bet the owner embraces somewhat ironically for its politically incorrect (and presumably unintentional) heroization of Quantrill. Penny was clearly mindful enough to depict the inhuman slaughter that occurred, esp. in the lower left, but he also didn't hesitate to make Quantrill look as dapper as Errol Flynn (even wearing a chartreuse shirt). I'd imagine its display is more cause for snickering by Missouri partisans and bushwhacker apologists rather than regarded as the artist presumably intended, as a respectful remembrance of the monstrous crime committed.

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Catalano 1 year, 1 month ago

Bad journalism. Unless I missed it, the article doesn't explain how Alburty acquired the painting. Only says (in the sidebar, no less) that the painting is now owned by April Bruce Stewart. Come on, Sara...you can do better then this.

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1 year, 1 month ago

You missed it. And I think you're confusing two separate paintings.

Regarding Paul Penny's painting (pictured at top): "...the painting spent about 30 years above Penny’s brother-in-law’s mantel in Leawood. ...After Alburty’s father in Leawood decided on a mantel art change, Alburty jumped at the chance to display the painting."

Regarding Addie Underwood's painting (pictured at bottom): "Penny wasn’t necessarily a Civil War buff but was inspired by a painting his mother had done of the raid."

— Sara Shepherd, LJW

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Catalano 1 year, 1 month ago

Thanks, Sara. So Alburty's father is Penny's brother in law?

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1 year, 1 month ago

Yep! -Sara Shepherd, LJW

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Lawrence Morgan 1 year, 1 month ago

There should be a museum in Lawrence for his work. And it should be downtown. Many other cities have museums of local people's work - for example, the Charles Umlauf museum in Austin.

Who is going to make this happen?

And thank you Sara, for the article, and April Bruce-Stewart and Richard Gwin for the photographs. But there aren't enough - I'd like to see all the paintings!

And, of course - but typically my suggestions to the Journal World are never accepted - rather, they are completely ignored - there should be a special section of the Journal World web site for paintings and photographs of all of Kansas.

There should also be streets named for people who have contributed from every field, whether it be the arts or medical care, which have helped to make Lawrence, Kansas into the special place it is today.

But this won't change until certain people at the Journal-World are replaced by people who care about citizen journalism, blogs, and the history of Lawrence, Kansas!

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