C.A. Seward

1884 - 1939

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Seward’s desire to insure that all children could experience good art was the impetus for the  programs he developed in the early 1920s through his Seward Studio. After he closed his freelance design studio in 1923 to accept the position of Director of the Art Department at Western Lithograph, he then continued these programs through the Wichita Art Association.  The Wichita Public Schools had an arts acquisition program for some time and as the Secretary-Treasurer of the Art Association Seward continued to collaborate with the Director of the Acquisition Program.  The schools apparently made outright purchases of works of art which they then displayed in various schools.  In addition, school children created fund raising programs in order to acquire the necessary money to purchase the works of art which they had selected through a general voting procedure.  No records have been found for when this program was discontinued by the Wichita Public School System.  Because some community members have made a concerted effort to maintain and protect this impressive collection, many of the original works of art still are on display in Wichita public schools.

Some of these letter are from artists who wanted to participate in the program.  Other letters are from artists whose paintings had been purchased for the schools.  One letter from painter Benjamin Brown discusses the pieces of art that are to be awarded for student essays. All of these letters reflect a strong support  for this program.

The artist, Gerrit Beneker, was born in Grand Rapids in 1882. Beneker, whose work included paintings, prints, drawings, and graphic illustrations, after studying at the Chicago Art institute received a scholarship to attend the Arts Students League in New York. By 1905 he had started his career as an illustrator in New York City.  His early work for magazine covers, showed men working in harmony with the new technology and he became known as America’s “foremost painter of industry.”  By 1913 he had moved to Provincetown, Massachusetts and this is where he made the painting that was purchased by the students in Wichita, Kansas.  John Noble a Kansas born, Provincetown based painter most likely introduced Beneker and Seward.

Benjamin C. Brown and his brother Howell Chambers Brown were the founders of the Los Angeles Printmakers which later became the California Society of Printmakers.  Benjamin worked primarily as a painter and is known for his plein air paintings of southern California and its coastline.  The Brown’s most like became acquainted with Seward through their mutual association with Bertha Jaques and the Chicago Society of Etchers.

Taos painter Walter Ufer and Seward maintained a long friendship.  Ufer often visited Wichita on his trips back to Chicago.  Seward assisted in helping Ufer get a mural commission in Wichita for the Hurd home. This mural is now in the collection of the Wichita Art Museum.

Seward - School Arts Acquisition Program

Artists letters include:

Seward Studio


June 1922

Garett Beneker

Wichita Art Assoc. Program

April 1925

Benjamin Brown

September 1927

Walter Ufer

Return to Seward - Arts AdvocateArts_Advocate.html

Liberty Loan poster by Beneker from the collection of the Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum.

Autographed photo of Benjamin Brown from the Seward family collection above painting by Benjamin Brown.

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