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The Sacred and Profane: Art of William West McKim

An exhibition featuring the works of the late William Wind McKim, long-time teacher and artist at the Kansas City Art Institute (KCAI), will open at The Ashby-Hodge Gallery of American Art at Central Methodist College March 23.

McKim, a Thomas Hart Benton student and colleague, was an artist and teacher with KCAI for more than 50 years, beginning in 1934. Born in 1916 in Independence, Mo., McKim graduated from the Institute in 1940. He went on to serve in the Army during World War II, including two years in the South Pacific.

After being discharged from the Army in 1945, he was asked to join the KCAI faculty, where he served as an artist and teacher until he retired at the age of 70. In addition to teaching drawing, lithography (his primary area of interest) and printmaking, he taught painting and passed along the technique of egg tempera – which he learned from Benton – to his students. He died in April 1995.

The exhibition, titled "Sacred and Profane: The Art of William Wind McKim," will run through May 9. Being featured are 50 of McKim's works, including oil on panel paintings and lithographs. "The theme is nature," said Thomas Yancey, former curator of the Ashby-Hodge Gallery. "It includes animals and birds in their natural setting."

His first lithograph, "The Old Gladiator," depicts a gamecock. It was exhibited in the 1939 World's Fair. The following year, art critic Thomas Craven commented on McKim and his work as "One of the most gifted and promising young artists, and if there is a better painter of animals, young or old, in this country, I do not know where he hides."

In addition to the McKim exhibition, a number of lithographs and watercolors by Thomas Hart Benton – part of the Ashby-Hodge Gallery's permanent works - will be on display in the gallery annex.

A reception honoring McKim will be held between 1:30 and 4:30 p.m., March 28, in the gallery. His daughter, Marie McKim Mayhugh, from Lee's Summit, and other members of the family will be present.