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Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art

John Steuart Curry: The Cowboy Within

September 24, 2019 – March 21, 2020

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).

Platinum Major Sponsors: The Beach-Edwards Family Foundation, Dan and Beth Bird, Greater Manhattan Community Foundation’s Lincoln & Dorothy I. Deihl Community Grant Program, Frank N. and Patricia L. Owings Foundation, Inc. | Gold Sponsors: The Archie & Dorothy Hyle Family | Silver Sponsor: Mary Cottom

Related Events

Art in Motion Cowboy-Themed Kick-off Event
Saturday, September 28, 2019, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

"Exodusters Go West: The Settlement of Nicodemus, Kansas"
Talk by Angela Bates, executive director, Nicodemus Historical Society
Thursday, November 14, 2019, 5:30 p.m. 

"The Old Chisholm Trail" 
Talk by Jim Hoy, professor of English, Emporia State University
Thursday, March 5, 2020, 5:30 pm 

At the Volland Store Gallery, 24098 Volland Rd., Alma, KS 66401
Jeremiah Ariaz: Louisiana Trail Riders (2018), book signing and talk by photographer Jeremiah Ariaz and
“John Steuart Curry: The Cowboy Within,” talk by co-curator Elizabeth Seaton
Saturday, November 16, 2019, 2 p.m.