C.A. Seward

1884 - 1939

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Images above are those of artists from the earliest exhibitions (abt 1921) organized by Seward: Gustave Baumann, George Elbert Burr, Frances Gearhart, Birger Sandzen, Frank Benson, Carl Oscar Borg and Ralph Pearson.

Seward began organizing exhibitions for other artists first at the Seward Studio, his free lance commercial design studio which also had an exhibition space and traveling exhibition program, and then at the Wichita Art Association.  Some of the letters included in this section are clearly addressed to Seward as the Secretary-Treasurer of the Art Association or are dated after he closed the Seward Studio in 1923.  Other letters definitely refer to the exhibitions held at the Wichita City Library under the auspices of the Wichita Art Association.  News clippings from about 1921-1922  however document exhibitions at the Seward Studio.  These were most likely put together solely for the Seward Studio. Prints by wildlife artist, Frank Benson as well as two of the founders of the Chicago Society of Etchers, Bertha Jacques and Ralph Pearson and wood block artist, Gustave Baumann were all being exhibited at the Seward Studio when it first opened in  1921.  During this same year, in January of 1921 the celebration dinner that marked the founding of the Wichita Art Association was noted in the Wichita Eagle. These early Seward Studio exhibitions were the forerunners of what became the exhibition program of the Wichita Art Association.  As Seward was the organizer for both it is difficult to document a clear line between the two until the Spring of 1923 when the Seward Studio for commercial design was closed.

Many of the letters in this file were written in reference to the American Block Print Exhibition which Seward began organizing in 1927. Artists from throughout the United States as well as Canada were invited to submit work for this show. This appears to have been the first national exhibition initiated by the Wichita Art Association and a major undertaking for a city with a population of only about 111,000. This first exhibition was displayed at the Wichita City Library February 12th to 26th, 1928 under the auspices of the Wichita Art Association.  This annual exhibition continued in a slightly different format and with a different title until 1990. Through the years the “who’s who” of American printmaking sent their work in hopes of being selected by the jury for inclusion in this show.

For this first exhibition the work of 27 artists from throughout the United States and Canada was selected in what Seward described in his catalog introduction as “an attempt to assemble a representative group of contemporary American Block Prints.” Seward then states “So far as we know nothing similar has been done in the Middle West.” He continues by saying, “It has been a big job to assemble this collection from all corners of America.  Each artist was invited to send a group of prints from which we have selected this exhibition.”  Many of these artists continued to exhibit every year in this exhibition and many of these same artists became active members in the Prairie Print Makers and also participated in those annual exhibitions too.

The letters as listed on the right, include artists such as Maynard Dixon writing to inquire about the possibility of an exhibition.  They also include letters from artists who are obviously responding to Seward’s inquiry about their interest in exhibiting  their work in Wichita. 

This group of letters along with the related exhibitions testify to the fact that as early as 1920, Wichita, Kansas, was quickly moving beyond its cow town image and developing an arts community that was attracting the attention of  artists throughout the United States and Canada.  In the Midwest, the  Kansas City Art Institute began holding its annual Midwest Artists Exhibitions in 1918 but clearly by 1920 Wichita had become an equally, if not more, visible and active arts center within the Midwest.  Though situated in a much larger population base, the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City was constructed in 1930, just 5 years previous to the opening of the Wichita Art Museum.  The Chicago Art Institute was the dominant force in the Midwest from its inception in 1893 until 1904 when the St Louis Museum and Art School moved into the large Arts Pavilion erected for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition.

Seward - Exhibition Programs & related letters

Seward Studio and the Wichita Art Association

Artists letters in this file include those related to the Seward Studio and Wichita Art Association Exhibitions. A number of these artists also joined the Prairie Print Makers when Seward initiated that organization in December of 1930.  Letters related to the Prairie Print Makers annual exhibitions and gift prints are included on this site in the Prairie Print Maker section.

John Taylor Arms

June & October 1937

October 1938

George Elbert Burr

25 April 1922

Gustave Baumann

26 April 1922

John Noble

Bertha Jaques

June 1937

& news clipping ca 1921

Carl Oscar Borg

16 Nov 1926

B.J.O. Nordfeldt

December 1927

January 1929

August 1930

Maynard Dixon

2 Jan 1928

31 Oct 1934

Kenneth Adams

August 1929

December 1937

Frances Gearhart

abt 1930

Stow Wengenroth


Todd Lindenmuth

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