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Western Lithograph, Wichita.

Wichita 

 

One day I met Ed Kopietz, an art student I knew while walking along Michigan Blvd. He was from Wichita and he told me about his friend C.A. Seward, Art Director for The Western Lithograph Co., looking for someone to work there. I wrote for the job, was accepted and arrived in Wichita right after Christmas 1923 and started to work there Jan. 1, 1924. That is how just a chance meeting on busy Michigan Blvd. determined the direction of my life's work.

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Ed Kopietz at his easel.

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At Western Lithograph (l to r) C.A. Seward, Loren Kennedy, Vern Day (?),

Lloyd Foltz, & Clarence Hotvedt.

The Art Class

 

When I came to Wichita in 1924, one of the first things I did was join an art sketch class. It had been formed in the fall of 1923 when a meeting was held at the Hotel Lassen to organize an art class as another activity of the Wichita Art Association. Prior to this, Ed Davidson was instructing a few young enthusiasts in his home. Among them were Bertha Bergman (my future wife), Sylvia Leslie and Lillian Simpson. Upon organizing, the class met in the basement at the public library and Elizabeth Sprague, C.A. Seward, Bob Aitchison and Ed Davison alternated as volunteer instructors.

 

I just came fresh from years of life drawing and I was so much better than the rest of the class the others petitioned the Art Association to make me their regular instructor. This they did and the only pay I got was to collect 50 cents per night from each of the students which I kept after paying the model. When I started I guess I made $5 per week.

 

We got kicked out of the library and for a couple of years went wherever we could find a cheap place to have the class - for awhile a room above the Butts Motor Co., then at East High School and Central Intermediate. In 1927, the class got big enough the Art Association really got behind the project and a permanent home was rented in the Butts Building. I was paid $10 per week and taught two nights a week. Classes expanded to four nights a week, an average attendance of 15 each night, and an enrollment of seventy five. When it became necessary to organize the extra classes in 1930, Bill Dickerson, just out of art school was hired to teach also two nights per week. Eventually arrangements were made with the University of Wichita whereby credit was given for the work done by the students. This speaks for itself as to the quality of the work done.

 

In 1931, when I left to take a job in Fort Worth, Bill took over both classes and has made it his job ever since.

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Wichita newspaper article about the class.

 

Wichita Art Scene

Because of my teaching at the art class, membership in the Art Association, and the Artists Guild I was very active in art circles and pretty well-known. There were very few good artists in Wichita in the twenties, not over a dozen who could ever be called proficient. The Artists Guild of which I was a charter member, organized in 1924 held an exhibit every year and I always exhibited several pieces.

In the twenties many other events of interest to artists were going on in Wichita. Mrs. Schollenberger came into the picture and was made President of the Art Association. Arthur Covey painted a monumental mural which was installed in the City Library. The Hurds commissioned Walter Ufer to paint a notable mural in their home. Walter Crandall was a great help to the print makers of the city by pushing the sale of prints through the Vail Galleries and through Mrs. Schollenbergers interior decorating studio. The Naftsgers were buying many works of art to build a notable collection for the Art Association. Other collectors of art were Mrs. Will Jones, Dr. and Mrs. J.G. Missildine, Mrs. Jackman, and Mrs. Richard Grey.

 

Another event of great importance was the establishment of the Murdock bequest in the twenties. Great works of art were being purchased but there was no suitable place to exhibit them. It became a necessity to build a museum or lose the collection. Sparked by L.W. Clapp, Walter Vincent, C.A. Seward, Bob Aitchison, Mrs. Sidney Holmes, and others, a bond issue was voted upon and approved by the citizens of Wichita.

Prairie Print Makers

Seward, Capps, Foltz, Logan, Leo Courtney and I organized the Prairie Printmakers going up to Sandzen’s studio in Lindsborg for the organization meeting. The group was largely organized because of a great interest in printmaking at the time. Elected officers were Leo Courtney, President, Charles M. Capps, Vice-Pres., C.A. Seward, Sec’y-Treas.

Editors note: It's unknown why he only referred to himself and six others as there were 10 charter members. The above sentence is the extent of Clarence's mention of the Print Makers in his autobiography. However, a section on the group is included on this site.

Charter members at Birger Sandzen’s studio on January 28, 1930. L to R: Edmund Kopietz, Carl Smalley (honorary), Herschel Logan, Lloyd Foltz, C.A. (Clarence) Hotvedt, Arthur Hall, Norma Bassett Hall, C.A. Seward, Birger Sandzen, Charles Capps, and Leo Courtney.

 The Architect Who Became a Painter

The Wichita Beacon, by Henry C. Haskell

(Undated, but content suggests late 1920’s.)  

Throughout this fall and winter a small class is meeting at the Central Intermediate School under the auspices of the Wichita Art Association. It is comprised largely of students from local public schools, from Fairmount College, and Friends University, but there are also several older persons with an amateur interest in art, who have taken advantage of the opportunities offered them to acquire some competent technical instruction. The attendance varies. Sometimes there are twenty persons present; again there may be as many as twenty-five. But the classes have been conducted successfully now for several years past and seem to have secured a rather permanent place in the artistic life of the community.

     The instructor who has charge of these classes, and has had for two years past, is so young in appearance that at first glance he might be mistaken for one of the students. He is Clarence Hotvedt, some of whose work, in oil, has been on exhibit recently at the Vail Galleries.

     Altho he lived in Wisconsin, Hotvedt started to attend the University of Minnesota, but he stayed only a year. His interests had shifted. Architecture, in which he was specializing, drew his attention to painting and general art work. The next year, instead of returning to Minneapolis, he went to Chicago and started in at the Art Institute.

     “I don’t know,” he said. “Perhaps I may regret the change later. I haven’t yet. I am sorry, tho, that I didn’t continue with my university education. It would have been a great help.”

     Hotvedt studied three years at the Art Institute, and was graduated in 1923. The result of his schooling is evident in his work. The Art Institute differs from many art schools in the country by reason of its insistence upon general cultural values. It is the practice in many institutions to stress the practical side of the curriculum. This is, of course, in line with the prevailing educational mode in America today. The Art Institute does not attach much importance to a direct training for commercial art; its purpose is more to give the student some conception of the great theories of art and the philosophical backgrounds which lie behind them. For that reason, it insists upon a study of the history of art, as well as a general education in nearly all the branches, such as painting in oils and water color, drawing in crayon and charcoal, lithography, and etching. The theory upon which the Art institute is based, postulates that, given a broad foundation, a student of any ability at all will be able to work out the practice for himself.

     It is possibly on account of the training in theory which he received that Hotvedt has had such success with the Art classes here. He first took them over in the winter of 1923. Last year illness forced him to give up the work in the middle of the term, and his friend, Glen Golton, conducted the classes for the remainder of the year. Hotvedt, however, has been able to resume teaching again this year.

     In his own work Hotvedt is frankly experimental.  “I’m not yet sure, you see, what I want to do,” he explained. “Heretofore I’ve concentrated on line. Now I’m working on color.”

     The change in Hotvedt’s interest is clearly shown by his work. The earlier oils are in rather light pastel shades. It is obviously form which has drawn his attention. The portraits, particularly in lithograph, exhibit a strong feeling for surfaces. The heads are plainly modeled and the various planes are differentiated, with almost accentuated regard for light values.

     At the present time, although he has not abandoned his care for line, Hotvedt is working more largely in color. The Kansas landscapes are distinctive. A wheat field, with the grain shocked, and behind a mass of light green foliage. This same peculiar green appears in several of the landscapes. It is decorative, rather than real. Lately, however, he has been endeavoring to brighten up his colors. The leaves of the trees become more intense, the trunks, richer and darker. One painting has a splotch of red in the tree trunk.

     “See that,” Hotvedt said, pointing it out. “I should never have dared do that before.” And he laughed.

     One large canvas shows his changing interests in a rather remarkable fashion. It is a picture of Indians against a New Mexican background. There are half a dozen chief figures in various attitudes of prayer. Two show intense reverence; a child watches them, without understanding what it is all about; the others are in different moods of skepticism, graduating to complete disbelief and contempt. The idea is an interesting one embodying, as it does, dramatic and psychological implications. But it is essentially a conception of form and line. Or rather, it was, as originally planned. That was some time ago.

     Now, as the artist reaches the finishing touches of his work, he is paying far greater attention to the color, which, after all, seems to be the chief concern of the Taos school, almost to the exclusion of other considerations. The brilliant shades of the Indian blankets, the sunlight that bathes the background – these are the things upon which Hotvedt is bestowing most of his attention. He is even repainting certain portions of the canvas to achieve more vivid tones.

     The three pictures, which are here reproduced, are unusually representative of the artist’s work. The lithograph was done while he was yet at the Chicago Art Institute. The landscape shows him after the shift in his interest. Unavoidably the rather vivid coloring is lost. In the case of the immediate foreground, the picture is possibly benefitted. The ground here is rather profusely strewn with flowers, whose brightness seems somewhat to detract from the composition as a whole. But the rest of the work, of course, suffers badly from the loss.

     To many persons, however, the portrait in oils is the most interesting of the three productions. It is at once evident that the artist has succeeded in going behind the facts of immediate physical appearance. In other words, this is a portrait, not an ordinary picture. The work is as yet unfinished. The dress will probably be changed, the high lights are lacking in the hair – but these are details which do not detract particularly from the photographic reproduction. The point is that with all his interest in color, Hotvedt has not lost his feeling for form and dramatic effect. It must be obvious, even to the most casual observer, that he has studied character before starting the portrait.

     “The portraitist has a great advantage here over the ordinary photographer,” Hotvedt pointed out. “He must of necessity work for hours with the person posing for him. Most people are self-conscious. They are stiff and affected, when anyone starts to make their picture. Perhaps only once or twice during the entire sitting do they become natural. It is the business of the portraitist to seize upon these rare moments and transfer the expression to the canvas. The photographer is handicapped by the shortness of time in which he deals with the model. But even the portrait painter must be on the alert and forever attempting to discover the salient points of the personality before him.”