The Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art offers an in-depth look at Kansas art and brings art and artists from around the world to the heart of Kansas.
Current exhibitions include (through March 2020): John Steuart Curry: The Cowboy Within.
John Steuart Curry was raised on a farm in northeast Kansas and is best known for his depictions of the Midwest. Another region revealed in his art, the American West, has always deserved more attention. Experiences on a family-owned ranch in Arizona nurtured Curry’s love of the Western landscape. During the 1920s the artist illustrated serialized magazine stories that took readers on Wild West adventures. In later years he created mural interpretations of Westward expansion. Through paintings, drawings, magazines, and books this exhibition is the first to survey Curry’s vision of the American West. Co-curated by independent scholar Frank Owings and Beach Museum of Art Curator Elizabeth Seaton, John Steuart Curry: The Cowboy Within is accompanied by an 80-page exhibition catalogue.
During the years of the Great Depression, John Steuart Curry (1897 – 1946) gained national recognition with Thomas Hart Benton and Grant Wood as a member of the so-called Regionalist Triumvirate. These artists raised in the Midwest—Curry in Kansas, Benton in Missouri, and Wood in Iowa—led a movement in American art characterized by realist depictions of the local scene.
Curry is best known for his images of rural Kansas: isolated farms, religious gatherings, approaching storms. Another region revealed in his art, the American West, has always deserved more attention. A childhood scrapbook shows a boy under the spell of a Wild West pictured by artists such as Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell. During the 1920s Curry imaged the Wild West as an illustrator of serialized magazine stories about ranch owners and cowboy adventures.
Later, Curry would develop imagery for editions of classic books set in the West such as James Fenimore Cooper’s The Prairie and Mary O’Hara’s My Friend Flicka. During the 1930s the artist interpreted westward expansion in murals for US agencies charged with law enforcement, land management, and relations with the country’s indigenous population. Experiences on his family’s second ranch in Arizona nurtured Curry’s love of the Western desert and mountains, where he camped and painted.
Through drawings, paintings, magazines, and books in the museum’s collection and from other lenders, this exhibition will be the first to survey Curry’s vision of the American West. The exhibition is co-curated by independent scholar Frank N. Owings Jr. and Beach Museum of Art Curator Elizabeth Seaton. John Steuart Curry: The Cowboy Within is accompanied by an 80-page catalogue with an introduction by William H. Truettner, Smithsonian American Art Museum emeritus curator and author of The West as America: Reinterpreting Images of the Frontier (1991).
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