Beloved printmaker’s work on display in Bethel art gallery
NORTH NEWTON, KAN. -- Bethel College opens its newly renovated art gallery to the public with an exhibit by a well-known Wichita printmaker.
“[The late] John Boyd inspired many generations of printmaking students during his long career at Wichita State University,” said Gail Lutsch, Bethel professor emeritus of art. “His work was playful, sometimes whimsical, and had an energetic, often painterly style.
“He was a master of the three-color monotype – among many areas of print expertise – and later in his career made distinguished digital prints.”
“Five Decades of Fun – The Artwork of John David Boyd” opened Aug. 25 in the Fine Arts Center gallery, which underwent extensive renovation this summer and also has a new name: Robert W. Regier Art Gallery, in honor of another professor emeritus of art, Bob Regier of North Newton.
There will be a public reception for the Boyd exhibit Sept. 18 from 6-8 p.m. in the gallery area.
“John Boyd was a printmaking professor at WSU for many years, influencing many students during his long tenure,” said Rachel Epp Buller, Bethel assistant professor of art and gallery coordinator. “He passed away a couple of years ago, and this exhibition surveys a range of his printmaking techniques from over the course of his career.”
Well-known Wichita gallerist and collector James W. Johnson has written a statement for Boyd’s Bethel exhibit.
“John Boyd was in the right place at the right time to study printmaking,” Johnson said. “At the time he entered college in 1966, important Los Angeles printmaking workshops such as Tamarind Lithography Workshop and Gemini Editions Limited were establishing printmaking as an important medium in American art.
“Influenced by this, he entered studies at California State University-Long Beach and later at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan to become a master printmaker and to pursue a profession of teaching printmaking at the collegiate level.
Boyd understood “the printmaker’s historical importance in art and the skill necessary to become a master printer,” Johnson continued. “With little interest in selling his own prints, he was satisfied with teaching, and pulling editions for other artists. In the 37 years Boyd taught at WSU, the number of his own editions remained small.”
Johnson calls Boyd’s art “entirely personal” and frequently showing his “unique sense of humor.”
“His imagery is usually drawn from his surroundings, for instance pets, family and his interests in music, art and literature. Often, there is reference to the struggle between good and evil in individuals and environments.
“Stylistically, there is a flat, almost cartoon-like quality to his imagery that can be seen as a merging of his Ozark roots and the counter-culture comics of Southern California in the 1960s.
“Although lithography was his specialty, John Boyd was an expert at all printmaking techniques, often combining them in his work.
“The works exhibited here are examples of the varied techniques he used to produce his wonderful images. Also included are acrylic on paper works that often formed the beginnings of print editions. These unique [pieces] are often indistinguishable from their graphic counterparts and are highly prized by collectors.”
John Boyd began teaching at WSU in 1972 and retired in 2008. He died in October 2012 at the age of 73 from complications of myasthenia gravis.
Over the years, he has been one of the most frequently exhibited artists in Bethel’s Fine Arts Center Gallery.
“John Boyd’s sense of humor and generosity in sharing his love of printmaking will be missed,” said Lutsch.
There will be a public rededication of the Fine Arts Center Oct. 18 at 9 a.m., as part of the annual Fall Festival at Bethel. At that time, the Robert W. Regier Art Gallery will be acknowledged as a specially named “new” space.
The public is invited to the rededication and, before that, to the Boyd exhibit reception Sept. 18 from 6-8 p.m.
“Five Decades of Fun: The Artwork of John David Boyd” will be on display through Sept.19. Regier Gallery hours are Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sundays, 2-4 p.m. Admission is free.
Bethel College is the only private, liberal arts college in Kansas listed in the 2014-15 Forbes.com analysis of top colleges and universities in the United States, and is the highest-ranked Kansas college in the Washington Monthly annual college guide for 2014-15. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see www.bethelks.edu.