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Newton native to open retrospective show in Bethel College art gallery

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – A Newton native who spent 20 years building exhibits at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., will have a retrospective show at Bethel College’s Fine Arts Center Gallery, opening Friday, March 9.

Vernon Rickman graduated from Newton High School in 1947. After serving in the military, he went to the University of Kansas, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts. Following further studies at art schools in Kansas and in Cleveland, Ohio, Rickman went to work at the Smithsonian as a sculptor and staff artist in the early 1960s. During his time there, he was involved in creating many of the exhibits in the Museum of Natural History.

He retired from the Smithsonian in the early 1980s but continued with his passion for painting and sculpting. Since that time, he has created more than 300 oil on canvas paintings, as well as numerous sculptures in various materials.

“Longing, isolation, beauty, sorrow and darkness are central themes in many of Rickman’s works, including the pieces in this exhibit,” said Gail Lutsch, Bethel professor of art and gallery director.

Rickman has lived in Newton since the early 1990s. There will be a public reception for the artist from 3-5 p.m. on March 9. The exhibit will be up through April 6. Gallery hours are Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.-5 p.m., and Sunday, 2-4 p.m. The gallery will be closed March 17-25 for Bethel College’s spring break.

Bethel College is a four-year liberal arts college affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. Founded in 1887, it is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Bethel is known for its academic excellence and has been named a Top Tier college by U.S. News & World Report every year since 1998. For more information, see the Bethel web site at www.bethelks.edu.

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