Howard E. Wooden Distinguished Lecture Series

The Howard E. Wooden Distinguished Lecture Series is an annual endowed series produced by the Friends of the Wichita Art Museum. The program brings notable thought leaders in American art field to Wichita and the museum. The lectures are free to the public. Recent speakers include these noted scholars and museum leaders:

Wanda Corn, Robert and Ruth Halperin Professor Emerita in Art History at Stanford University

Patricia Junker, Ann M. Barwick Curator of American Art, Seattle Art Museum

Elizabeth Mankin Kornhauser, Alice Pratt Brown Curator of American Painting and Sculpture at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Sally Pemberton, granddaughter of The New Yorker's first art critic, Murdock Pemberton

This endowed annual series was inaugrated by the Friends of the Wichita Art Museum to commemorate the tenure of Howard E. Wooden as Director of the Wichita Art Museum (1975-1989), during which time the Museum experience steady growth and a signficant enlargement of the Museum's collection. Funds for the lecture series are provided by the Friends of the Wichita Art Museum Endowment.

Dr. Charles Eldredge: Curry, Corn, and Kansas

Wednesday, October 3
Howard E. Wooden Lecture Series
Presented by the Friends of the Wichita Art Museum

6 pm | festive mingling, cash bar
Dr. S. Jim and Darla Farha Great Hall + exhibition viewing
Second Floor

6:45 pm | lecture in the Howard E. Wooden Lecture Hall
First Floor

Admission to the galleries and to the lecture is free. 

John Steuart Curry (1897–1946), the best known of Kansas' artists, was born and raised on a farm in rural Jefferson County. He rose to national prominence in the 1930s as one of the leading Regionalist painters who, along with Thomas Hart Benton and Grant Wood, were prized for their artistic celebrations of Midwestern agricultural life. Yet, in his personal life, Curry was a "long-distance Regionalist," creating his rural idylls in the bohemian art colony of Westport, Connecticut, with only occasional homecomings to his natïve state.

In 1933, during one such return, Curry painted Kansas Cornfield, a nearly life-sized depiction of the ripening crop. The masterful painting became the first work to enter the Wichita Art Museum's collection, a promising start to its strong American art holdings. Dr. Charles Eldredge will address the importance of the Wichita painting and of Curry's corn subjects. The Fall 2018 Wooden Lecture on Curry's engagement with the fertile farmland of the Midwest complements the contemporary documentary photography exhibition Kansas Land. 

Dr. Eldredge is one of the leading historians of American art and is the Hall Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of Kansas, stepping into retirement this fall after 42 years at the university. He previously served as director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and of KU's Spencer Museum of Art. Eldredge is also the author of numerous texts on American art and contributed an essay on Curry in Kansas to the artist's retrospective in 1998.

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