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The Ashby Collection - Part 2

The second part of an exhibition of the remarkable Ashby art collection opened in The Ashby-Hodge Gallery of American Art on the Central Methodist College campus Jan. 23 and ran through early March, said Dr. Joe Geist, curator of the gallery.

Titled "The Way We Were: Dr. Ashby’s Favorite Artists," the memorial show featured more than 50 works of American art from the collection of the late Dr. Lawrence D. Ashby of Pekin, Ill. The works have been provided to The Ashby-Hodge Gallery for its permanent collection. Pieces to be shown include acrylics, oils, watercolors, pastels and bronze sculpture. Dr. Ashby died Nov. 28 at his home in Pekin, Ill., at the age of 80.

Among the works being shown are pieces by American artists Charles Banks Wilson, who was born in Oklahoma in 1918 and is still an active artist from his home in Fayetteville, Ark.; Fred Irvin of California, who was born in 1914 in Chillicothe, Mo., and active in national art circles for more than a half century; Roger Medearis, who was born in Fayette in 1920 and is still active as an artist from his home in California; and Aaron Bohrod (1907-1992).

"The Ashby-Hodge Gallery will always be grateful to Dr. Ashby for his inspirational guidance at the inception and through the seven-year existence of the Gallery," Geist said. "Dr. Ashby’s interest in art began many years ago, and his collection exemplifies his exquisite taste and knowledge. His first-hand acquaintance with many of the artists in the collection can be seen in the archival material in the Gallery.

"Dr. Ashby loved the Midwestern artists of the first part of the 20th century, and the Ashby Collection testifies to what that era of art was all about and what those artists added to the history of American art. We are fortunate to have the Ashby Collection as the main focus of our Gallery and to be able to show it in future years. Dr. Ashby’s heritage will live on in a magnificent and magnanimous way via the collection."

The Ashby-Hodge Gallery of American Art opened in October 1993 at Central Methodist College. In addition to Dr Ashby and his wife, Loretta Ashby, its benefactors include Dr. Robert and Anna Mae Besgrove Hodge of Kansas City. "From the very beginning, the central focus of the Gallery was the Ashby Collection," said Dr. Geist. "The collection started with 92 works and has now grown to over 150 works." Geist said the collection emphasizes Midwestern regionalist artists of the 20th century, with a special interest in the students of Thomas Hart Benton.