When Susan Raines mentions the Bowlus Fine Arts Center is hosting the John P. Harris art collection for the next couple of months, she’s typically greeted with a shrug, or perhaps a slight nod in recalling the legendary Kansas newspaperman of the first half of the 20th century.
Mention that the exhibit features Picasso, Rembrandt and Renior pieces, and… well, that tends to stop people in their tracks.
“The John P. Harris Collection: Prints Collected From Travels by a Noted Hutchinson Journalist” will be displayed at the Mary L. Martin Art Gallery in the Bowlus through April 2. The exhibit opened Friday.
The gallery is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. during normal business hours and will be open for the SIX concert Feb. 13 and the Willis Clan concert April 2.
Special appointments can be made for groups by calling 365-4765, or via email at email@example.com.
The exhibit, on loan from the Birger Sandzén Museum in Lindsborg, is sponsored by the Sleeper Family Trust.
JOHN P. “Jack” Harris got his start in journalism in 1927, when his father purchased the Chanute Tribune and made Jack publisher.
He then bought the Hutchinson News-Herald in 1933, with his brother, Sidney, in 1933. Over the next 36 years, the Harris family became synonymous with Kansas news, acquiring several newspapers and other media outlets. (Still today, Harris Enterprises owns newspapers in Hutchinson, Hays, Ottawa, Salina, Garden City and Burlington, Iowa.)
As Harris, a lover of art, traveled around the world, usually to work with struggling newspapers, he acquired an extensive collection of fine art prints.
Those prints eventually became a part of a collection acquired by the Birger Sandzén Museum. Twenty-two prints comprise the exhibit.
THE PRINTS themselves are works of art, even if they are in essence, facsimiles.
“When you say ‘prints,’ I think of something you’d see in a gift shop,” or something done on a laser printer, said Traci Plumlee, Bowlus bookkeeper. “These aren’t like that.”
The Harris exhibit prints were made by etching the original design into wood, linoleum or most often, paper, then applying ink to make multiple copies.
So while prints may look virtually identical, they are still each considered unique pieces of art.
Occasionally, the artist hired a master printmaker to handle the process. Oftentimes, the artist did the prints himself. It’s not known which of the Harris pieces were done by the original artists.
“We know the Picasso print was done in Picasso’s time,” Plumlee said.
“It’s just an interesting exhibit, especially when you see the amount of detail from those etchings,” Raines said. “Some of the etchings look like black and white photographs because the detail is so amazing.”
Having prints depicting such art legends should generate interest, she continued. “It’s really appealing for the art students, just to be able to look at them.”