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Spiritual Journeys: The Art of Robert Sudlow

A Wondrous Gift: Paintings from the Schenk Estate in Memory of Edna SchenkSpiritual Journeys: The Art of Robert Sudlow, an exhibition featuring the works of an artist considered one of the most important painters to emerge from the Midwest, will open Jan. 25 at The Ashby-Hodge Gallery of American art at Central Methodist College.

With an enthusiastic following of collectors, artists, former students, and native Kansans, Sudlow is acknowledged as the preeminent landscape painter of Kansas. He has the distinct honor of being named first artist in the history of Kansas as the "Governor's Artist" for the state in 1974. He was also named Kansan of the Year in 1997.

Little is known about Sudlow's method, iconology, and intent. There are many misconceptions about his work, the most important being that his landscapes are simply a description of nature observed.

His paintings are richer and more complex than such superficial interpretations might suggest. Instead, what Sudlow captures is the essence of the landscape, that which requires both the mind and the eye to understand. For he represents not only the land and sky, but also eastern Kansas light, atmospheric effects, and the transient moment. But most importantly, he transforms these elements into an evocative experience, an experience that is remembered and present within the same moment.

Spiritual Journeys is a retrospective of Sudlow's career as an artist. The works represented in this exhibition come from the artist's personal collection as well as pieces from the community of Sudlow collectors. A native of Holton, Kan., Sudlow received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Kansas, where he worked with Albert Bloch, a member of Der Blaue Reiter, a group of German Expressionists in Munich, Germany. In 1946, Sudlow returned to Lawrence as a faculty member at the University of Kansas in the Art and Design department. He served as professor of painting until his retirement in June 1988.

Although Sudlow has worked and lived elsewhere, he is always drawn back to the center of the world for him-Kansas. It is a spiritual migration that calls him home to depict the essence of a certain place at a particular time. And for those who know and love eastern Kansas, Sudlow captures a transcendent depiction of where spirit and nature are mysteriously linked.

Spiritual Journeys: The Art of Robert Sudlow is accompanied by a book of the same name, with essays by David Cateforis, associate professor, Department of Art History, University of Kansas, and Preston Fambrough, professor, Department of English, Baker University. The introduction is written by Wes Jackson, MacArthur Fellowship recipient and president of the Land Institute, and the graphic design is provided by Patrick Dooley, associate professor, Department of Art and Design, University of Kansas.

The exhibition is organized and toured by ExhibitsUSA. The purpose of ExhibitsUSA is to create access to an array of arts and humanities exhibitions, nurture the development and understanding of diverse art forms and cultures, and encourage the expanding depth and breadth of cultural life in local communities. ExhibitsUSA is a national division of Mid-America Arts Alliance, a private, non-profit organization founded in 1972.

Spiritual Journeys is a program of ExhibitsUSA, which is supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Houston Endowment Inc., the Meadows Foundation, the Louis and Elizabeth Flarsheim Charitable Foundation, Douglas County Bank/Ross and Marianna Beach, Phillips Petroleum Company, the William Randolph Hearst Foundation, the Don and Sybil Harrington Foundation, the H&R Block Foundation, the William T. Kemper Foundation, the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, DST Systems, Inc., the Cooper Foundation, Maureen and Robert Decherd, the Helen Jones Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the state arts agencies of Arkansas, Kansas, Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas. The Lila-Wallace Reader's Digest Fund enabled ExhibitsUSA to produce many of the high-quality museum exhibitions currently available at an affordable price. ExhibitsUSA is a national division of Mid-America Arts Alliance, a private, non-profit organization founded in 1972 and assisted by the NEA, its six partner state art agencies, and private contributors. Spiritual Journeys: The Art of Robert Sudlow is made possible through the generous support of Douglas County Bank, Ross and Marianna Beach, and Hortense Oldfather.