Current Exhibitions

The Agrarian Figure with Johne Richardson

January 22 – April 27, 2014

Kansas City based  painter Johne Richardson has captured a diversity in the agrarian man and woman. His paintings are combined with figurative pieces from the permanent collection to inspire conversation about what it means to live and work on the land and in our natural surroundings.

Imagining the agrarian figure does not result in a singular form. Included in this exhibition are cowboys, farmers, musicians, soldiers, fathers and mothers, students. Who they are and how they are portrayed greatly varies. Explore the diverse ethnicity, religions, social positions, professions, idealized and realistic portrayals of the agrarian figure.

Richardson excels at watercolor painting. He painted more landscapes than anything else until recently. While attending a Civil War re-enactment, he observed the textures and colors of fabrics in the costumes worn by the participants and rediscovered a passion for painting the figure.

More recently, Richardson has been exploring new media such as acrylic and large canvases. This technique allows him to more freely explore the tonal abstractions to create an expressive character.


Randy Waln: The Degeneration of the Family Farm

March 26, 2014 – July 27, 2014

Peru State College art professor and photographer, Randy Waln, has assembled a collection of digitally manipulated photographs of his family’s now abandoned farm. The recent color images are contrasted by small, historical black and white photographs of the farm.

Waln’s images communicate a sense of loss as generations have moved off the land. Cars and trucks are left to sit and rust. Plants have overgrown their intended boundaries and fallen down trees obstruct views and walkways. The viewer is confronted with man’s influence, or lack thereof, as nature reclaims the land.

“The color prints of the farmstead are subjective interpretations of its ‘present’ state. The amplified color and texture, and the expressive rendering, capture that sense of the extraordinary we often associate with places that hold significant meaning for us. It is that special personal appeal the place has because of memories associated with it. The objective reality of the camera’s recording is one of decay and ruin. The process of filtering the objective photographic images through memory and familiarity forms a fiction true to the remembrance in its intensity and enhanced grandeur,” Waln said.

The pairing of the black and white photographs serve to further the sense of loss, not just for the degeneration of the structures but of the activity the people brought to the place. In each of the historic farm photos, a person is the central subject. Hints of the condition of the farm are visible in the background. The aliveness the human subjects bring to the historic photographs is lost by its absence in the color images.