During the late 1920s, artist John Steuart Curry (1897-1946) gained national attention for his paintings of rural Kansas. Critics lauded his distinctive vision of the Midwest, and he became associated with leading Regionalist artists Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri and Grant Wood of Iowa.
Much less is known about Curry’s early years as an artist. An exploration of his career beginnings provides a deeper understanding of the conceptual and formal underpinnings of his later success. This exhibition of works from the Beach Museum of Art and other collections charts the artist’s art studies in various parts of the United States and Europe and his exploration of occupations, including magazine illustration and mural making. A recently conserved map mural, on loan from the Burr Living Trust of Lewisberry, Pennsylvania, makes its public debut in the installation.
The exhibition is organized by Curator Liz Seaton and members of a spring 2016 seminar through the K-State department of art, comprised of students from K-State and University of Missouri-Kansas City.
Major support for “John Steuart Curry: Mapping the Early Career” is provided by Joann Goldstein in memory of Jack Goldstein. Additional support comes from the R.M. Seaton Endowment for Exhibitions and The Ross and Marianna Kistler Beach Endowment for the Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art.
Make sure to make it into the Beach Museum of Art before January 28 to catch the last view of the exhibition Elizabeth “Grandma” Layton: You Gotta Have Art.
Elizabeth “Grandma” Layton: You Gotta Have Art
October 11, 2016—January 28, 2017
The Beach Museum of Art’s twentieth anniversary theme, “You Gotta Have Art,” was inspired by the words printed on caps worn by Elizabeth Layton and her husband in many of her self-portraits. The caps were gifts from her friend Don Lambert, the Ottawa Herald reporter who discovered her work in 1977 and helped to establish Layton as an important American artist through his writing and curation of exhibitions. The succinct phrase encapsulates how art was a positive force in Elizabeth Layton’s life. After an unstable marriage that ended in divorce, the death of a son, a lifelong battle with manic depression, and thirteen debilitating electroshock treatments, Layton took her first class in contour drawing and discovered how art could help her heal. Her drawings examined universal human experiences such as aging, death, social injustice, and love through the lens of her own life and body. She demonstrated the power of art in forging personal connections and developing understanding and empathy. In the comment book from her 1992 exhibition at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, one visitor wrote: “I am going through a hard time right now and it takes some effort to remember that it’s all a part of life. Your drawings… remind me that other people feel pain and ecstasy, rage and glory. Thank you for celebrating.”
Layton is now represented in the collections of more than one hundred and fifty art institutions in the United States, including the Smithsonian American Art Museum. She has been the subject of features in Life, People, and on National Public Radio. Lambert facilitated the entry of several Layton drawings into the Beach Museum of Art collection.
During the late 1920s artist John Steuart Curry (1897-1946) gained national attention for his portrayals of Kansas. At the height of his career, during the 1930s, he would become associated with prominent Regionalists Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri and Grant Wood of Iowa.
Much less is known about Curry’s early years as an artist. An exploration of his career beginnings provides a deeper understanding of the conceptual and formal underpinnings of his later success. This exhibition explores Curry as a student and early professional through more than thirty drawings, paintings, and magazine illustrations. A major mural on loan from the Burr Living Trust of Lewisberry, Pennsylvania, will be a centerpiece of the installation, which will present never-before-viewed objects from the museum’s collection, numbering over 900 Curry works.
The exhibition is organized by Curator Liz Seaton and members of a spring 2016 seminar, comprised of students from K-State and University of Missouri-Kansas City.
Thursday, February 2, 5:30 p.m.
Early Career of John Steuart Curry talk by curator Liz Seaton
The Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art furthers the teaching, research, and service missions of Kansas State University by collecting, studying, caring for, and presenting the visual art of Kansas and the region.