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.
“You Gotta Have Art” Gallery Walk with Don Lambert
Thursday, November 3, 2016 Gallery walks will take place at 5:30 and 6:15 p.m. Preregistration required. Call 785-532-7718 or email email@example.com.
Don Lambert, Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, Kansas State University, 1972, was a young reporter at the Ottawa Herald in Ottawa, Kansas, when he discovered Elizabeth Layton’s drawings in a college freshman drawing show at the Ottawa University student union. Recognizing her extraordinary talent and singular artistic vision, he curated and toured an exhibition of her work throughout Kansas, and introduced her art to museum curators all over the country. Seize this opportunity to hear firsthand accounts about the artist and her works from her close friend and advocate.
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 second husband in many of her self-portraits. The caps were gifts from her friend Don Lambert. The succinct phrase encapsulates how art was a positive force in Elizabeth Layton’s life. Her drawings examined universal human experiences such as aging, death, social injustice, and love through the lens of her own life and body.
Hoping you have a safe and celebratory 4th of July this year, from the Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art.
The Beach Museum of Art’s twentieth anniversary theme, “You Gotta Have Art,” was inspired by the words embroidered 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.
The Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art will exhibit Elizabeth “Grandma” Layton: You Gotta Have Art October 11, 2016—January 8, 2017.
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.