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The Figure in Woodcuts

Sept. 4 - Nov. 17

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Monte Crews

Monte Crews was born in 1888 in Fayette, Missouri. Both his father and mother were descendants of pioneer Missouri families. His father was a merchant in Fayette and his mother was a cousin of the much-decorated German painter, Ludwig Knaus (1829-1909). Many of his later illustrations reflected scenes during his growing up years in the Fayette area. He attended the University of Missouri for one year (1905-1906) where he befriended Missouri author, Homer Croy, later illustrating his first novel, When to Lock the Stable (1914). Crews enrolled at the Chicago Art Institute in 1906, and studied life-drawing under Bridgeman. Two year later, he won a scholarship to the Art Students League in New York where he won the prize for illustration. In 1908 he sold his first cover to Baseball magazine.

He returned to Fayette in 1917 and bought the local motion picture theatre, which was operated until 1921. Then he devoted full time to creating and promoting three comic strips, one of which--"The Mysterious Family Next Door"-was briefly syndicated in about 40 newspapers. But Crews fell on hard times economically and went to work for an advertising agency in Kansas City, contributing numerous illustrations to the Kansas City Star's Sunday supplement. He taught illustration for nine years at the Kansas City Art Institute, and during this time contributed illustrations to a number of regional magazines as well as an occasional cartoon to the Saturday Evening Post under the name Will Carroll.

The painting entitled "Pieing the Type" is owned by Fayette Democrat-Leader editor, H. Denny Davis, and refers to the old newspaper practice of hand setting type. A number of images in the painting clearly relate it to Fayette (take a close look at some of the notices on the wall of the newspaper office).

The large painting of Daniel Boone and his Sons at Boone's Lick salt works was presented to the Fayette Area Heritage Association by Givens Crews, son of Monte Crews and normally hangs at their offices in the Uriel Wright Building on the square in Fayette. The three magazine covers were personally selected by Givens Crews for this exhibition from the extensive collection he owns of his father's original illustrations.

( Bob Dyer, Boone's Lick Heritage, Volume 4, No. 3 and 4, September-December 1996)