An Artist's Perspective: The Artists Before Us

Nov 7, 2018

I went to artist John Boyd’s funeral back in 2012. Everyone who entered was handed a scroll of canvas on which was printed a self portrait of John in a priestly robe.

I ran across this the other day. I began to look at some his works that we have collected at our house. Then I looked at all the works we have by artists who have passed on: Shirley Glickman abstracts, a William Dickerson still life, a Fred Wassall surrealist piece, a large Rex Hall work, “College Hill Park At Night” by Zona Wheeler, a landscape by Diane Thomas-Lincoln, and Prairie Prints done early last century.

Having these works in our home has enriched my life. I view them often and think of the souls who made and toiled over them. I personally knew Boyd, Glickman, Thomas-Lincoln, and Irma Wassall, Fred’s wife. I found myself saddened by the frailty of their bodies of work. Who else owns pieces by these artists? Do the current owners of this work know of the gravity of the gifts left to us, the state of Kansas and beyond? 

I have studied each artist and know their histories well. People come in to our home and often inquire about a particular piece and I usually respond with the artist’s name and what the piece is made of. I have now realized that I owe these artists a debt. Each work in our home has taught me something very significant about how I view and make work. I owe them each SO much! From now on when a guest remarks on one of these pieces, I will talk of these artists’ lives and honor them properly, because their stories are magnificent, just like their works. And their hearts once beat warm, just like mine and yours.