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Book Review: In The Middle Of America

In the Middle of America: Printmaking & Print Exhibitions is a catalog created as a reference guide for four exhibits to be held this spring:

  • "C.A. Seward & Friends" at the Wichita Art Museum
  • "The Print Collection of Elsie Allen" at the Wichita Center for the Arts
  • "The Fine Art Printing Program of Western Lithograph Company" at the Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum
  • "Poetica de la Memoria-- prints by Francisco Souto" at the Clayton Staples Gallery at Wichita State University

The four exhibits celebrate the creation of the C.A. Seward Memorial Guest Print Maker program at Wichita State.
The catalog provides a visual history of printmaking in Wichita, which began with Walter Vincent and C.A. Seward in the early 20th century. Individually, they created print advertising and logo design for local businesses, including Coleman and Mentholatum. The two commercial art innovators joined forces when Seward became the art director at Western Lithograph, allowing him to pursue printmaking as his life's work.

Seward's prints were accepted nationally, and even internationally, in exhibits in Paris, London and Florence. The Smithsonian selected 60 of his prints for a solo exhibition in 1931, and he was honored with a dozen solo exhibits over the next 10 years.

Seward was a gifted artist, but it was his work as an advocate for the arts that set him apart from other artists of the time. He organized a Wichita-based print exhibition that became recognized nationally, and he formed the beloved Prairie Print Makers.

This full-color catalog is very well done. It not only provides education on the printmaking history of our town, but it also honors Wichita's supportive arts community through their art of print collecting.

Beth Golay is KMUW's Director of Marketing and Digital Content. She is the host of the KMUW podcast Marginalia and co-host with Suzanne Perez of the Books & Whatnot podcast. You can find her on Wichita Transit in conversation with other riders for En Route, a monthly segment on KMUW's weekly news program The Range.