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 William Judson Dickerson  (1904 - 1972)

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Lived/Active: Kansas/New Mexico      Known for: genre-figure and landscape painting, lithography, educator

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William Judson Dickerson
An example of work by William Judson Dickerson
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following biography is from Pat Rowley:

William Dickerson was born in El Dorado, Kansas, in 1904.  His career included instructorship at and graduation from the Art Institute of Chicago and forty-one years as Director of the Wichita Art Association, of which he was Director Emeritus at the time of his death in 1972.  His career achievements included numerous honors, awards, exhibitions and commissions in the art world.

His work was shown in one-man or group exhibitions at galleries and museums, which include the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Chicago Art Institute; Nelson Art Gallery; Denver Art Museum; Oakland Art Museum; California Palace of the Legion of Honor; Library of Congress; Colorado Springs Fine Art Center; Oklahoma City Art Center; Tulsa Art Museum; Joslyn Art Museum; Wichita Art Association; Wichita Art Museum; Sandzen Memorial Gallery; Pennsylvania Watercolor Club; Philadelphia Art Alliance; Thayer Museum, University of Kansas; Kansas State University, Manhattan; Arizona State College, Flagstaff; Santa Fe Art Museum; and the Toronto (Canada) Art Museum. He is listed in the Who's Who in American Art.

In a very real sense, Dickerson made Kansas a fertile field for the national mainstream Regionalist movement led by Thomas Hart Benton, John Steuart Curry and Grant Wood.  He opened up Kansas to the realization of its own beauty, and in doing so, he elevated the real sophistication of Kansans about the potential of art and artists to enhance their own lives.  Generations of Kansans were to see the true nature of their state through his eyes.

By the mid-thirties, the work of Dickerson had spread to national horizons as he continued to find inspiration for most of his compositions and harmonies in the subjects he had grown up with---all in his own backyard---the trees and fields and rivers and farmsteads and towns and alleys he had come to understand so well.

He also used his masterful draftsmanship to present the people in his area---all in the straightforward, honest approach that identified Curry in his portrait of his parents on the front porch of the family farm.  Dickerson's masterpiece in this genre was the great oil painting of his father in his working clothes in a railroad yard.  He also painted farmers at their chores, hunters stalking game in a frozen field and the ladies of his own Wichita Art Association attending to a Midwestern-style tea party.

He was the Last Great Kansas Regionalist, and his legacy lives on in former students, many of whom enjoy the most celebrated reputations in the art world.  His influence has quietly shaped the standards of Kansas art for almost a half-century, and his work stands as a monument to the greatest days of the Regionalist movement in Kansas.

Exhibition Record (Museums, Institutions and Awards):
Prairie Water Color Painters, Derby, England; Midwestern Artists’ Exhibition, 1927; Midwestern Artists’ Exhibition, 1928; Midwestern Artists’ Exhibition, 1929; 20th McPherson Exhibition (Catalogue of the Annual Art Exhibit. McPherson: McPherson High School Press, 1911-35) (Catalogue of the Annual Art Exhibit. McPherson: McPherson High School Press, 1911-35) 1930; Midwestern Artists’ Exhibition, 1931; Midwestern Artists’ Exhibition, 1932; KCAI Exhibition, Mar. 1933; Midwestern Artists’ Exhibition, 1935; 25th McPherson Exhibition (Catalogue of the Annual Art Exhibit. McPherson: McPherson High School Press, 1911-35) (Catalogue of the Annual Art Exhibit. McPherson: McPherson High School Press, 1911-35) 1935; Two-person exhibition with Edmund Davison at the Chappell House in Denver, 1936; Midwestern Artists’ Exhibition, 1936; Midwestern Artists Exhibition, 1937; One-man show at University of Tulsa, 1937; Midwestern Artists Exhibition, 1938; Kansas Free Fair,1939; Midwestern Artists Exhibition, 1939; 15th Annual Kansas Artists Exhibition (Topeka: Mulvane Art Museum, 1925-1941),1939; 16th Annual Kansas Artists Exhibition,1940; Midwestern Artists Exhibition, 1940; Midwestern Artists Exhibition, 1941;
Memberships:
Prairie Print Makers; Prairie Water Color Painters; Wichita Artist Guild; Kansas Oil Painters; Society of Canadian Painters, Etchers and Engravers; Kansas State Federation of Art.

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born El Dorado, Oct. 29 1904; died Wichita, Dec. 21, 1972. Painter. Drawing. Printmaker, specialized in lithography. Teacher. Spent most of life in Wichita. Studied at Fairmount College, took classes with Clarence Hotvedt at the Wichita Art Association and worked for C.A. Seward at Western Lithograph before studying at the Art Institute of Chicago, under George Oberteuffer and Charles Wilimovsky for painting, Bolton Brown for lithography, and B.J.O. Nordfeldt for painting and etching. Returned to Wichita in 1930 to teach at the Wichita Art Association and establish a studio. Named director of the School of the Wichita Art Association in 1933 and continued as such until retiring in 1971. Beginning around 1938, Dickerson and his family regularly spent summers in New Mexico and California.
Source:
AWARDS:
Silver Medal, Midwestern Artists’ Exhibition, 1931; Northwest Print Makers in Seattle; Honorable Mention. Graphic Arts, Midwestern Artists’ Exhibition, 1936; First Prize in Water Color, Midwestern Artists Exhibition, 1939 & 1940; Gift Print for Prairie Print Makers, 1942; First Prize Water Color, Six States Exhibition, Joslyn Memorial, Omaha 1945; First Prize in oil, Six States Exhibition, Joslyn Memorial, Omaha 1946; Honorable Mention, Water Color, Kansas Painters Exhibition, Pittsburgh, 1950- 51; Water Color in Metropolitan Museum of Art National Water Color and Print Show, 1952; Cash Award in Water Color, Mid American Exhibition, Kansas City 1952.

COLLECTIONS:
Washburn College, Topeka; University of Kansas, Lawrence Museum; Kansas State; Wichita University; Wichita Art Association; Sandzén Memorial Art Gallery; Topeka Public Library; Spencer Museum of Art.

MEMBERSHIPS:
Prairie Print Makers; Prairie Water Color Painters; Wichita Artist Guild; Kansas Oil Painters; Society of Canadian Painters, Etchers and Engravers; Kansas State Federation of Art.

SOURCES:
Susan Craig, "Biographical Dictionary of Kansas Artists (active before 1945)"
Festival of Kansas Arts and Crafts. Catalog: Arts and Crafts of Kansas: an Exhibition held in Lawrence, Feb. 18-22, 1948 in the Community Building. Lawrence: World Co., 1948; Who’s Who in American Art. New York: American Federation of Arts, 1936- v.1=1936-37 v.3= 1941-42 v.2=1938-39 v.4=1940-47. 1, 2, 3, 4; Sain, Lydia. Kansas Artists, compiled by Lydia Sain from 1932 to 1948. Typed Manuscript, 1948.; Newlin, Gertrude Dix (Development of Art in Kansas. Typed Manuscript, 1951); Who’s Who in American Art. New York: American Federation of Arts, 1936- v.1=1936-37 v.3= 1941-42 v.2=1938-39 v.4=1940-47. 7, 6; Midwestern Artists’ Exhibition (Kansas City: Kansas City Art Institute, 1920-1942 Mines, Cynthia. For the Sake of Art: The Story of an Art Movement in Kansas. s.l. Mines, 1979.) 1927-29, 1931-32, 1935-41; North, Bill, and Charles C. Eldredge. The Regionalist Vision of William Dickerson (Manhattan: Beach Museum of Art, 1997); Beach; AskArt, www.askart.com, accessed Sept. 2, 2005; TPL
This and over 1,750 other biographies can be found in Biographical Dictionary of Kansas Artists (active before 1945) compiled by Susan V. Craig, Art & Architecture Librarian at University of Kansas.

Biography from William R Talbot Fine Art:
Dickerson was, above all, an artist dedicated to capturing the sense of place, and as with many artists of his generation, he had a special attraction to New Mexico. “Part of New Mexico’s allure [especially for artists in Kansas],” writes Bill North, “was practical and economical—the geographic proximity of Kansas to New Mexico and the relatively reasonable cost of travel and lodging made the art centers of Taos and Santa Fe popular destinations for artists working in the lean years of the 1930s. Also, many artists in Kansas . . . found a certain familiarity in New Mexico’s broad treeless vistas, profuse light, dramatic topography, and desert vegetation.”

Dickerson was born in El Dorado, Kansas, in 1904. Two years later, his family moved to Wichita where Dickerson lived for the rest of his life, leaving only briefly (1926–1930) to study at the Art Institute of Chicago. Dickerson had been encouraged by his mentor, the Wichita printmaker C. A. Seward, to seek out the noted printer and artist Bolton Brown, who was a distinguished member of the institute’s faculty. Dickerson took a class in lithography from Brown during his final year at the institute and so distinguished himself that he was asked to take Brown’s place when the latter departed the following year. Dickerson declined the job in favor of returning to Kansas to take a position at the School of the Wichita Art Association where he served as the organization’s director and guiding force until his retirement in 1971.

The association became one of the most important art centers in the region, attracting painters and printmakers nationwide, the most significant among them B. J. O. Nordfeldt, with whom Dickerson formed a close association. In 1931, Dickerson visited the studios of Nordfeldt and Walter Ufer in Santa Fe and made a return trip to the Southwest the next year. He was so taken with the landscape and its humble byways that in 1938 he and his family began spending a portion of every summer in New Mexico. During the first summer, Dickerson sketched the church in Cañoncito, an early depiction of the motif that he would return to four years later when he produced the lithograph offered here. In 1942, when he was invited to create an annual gift print for the Prairie Print Makers, the Kansas print club founded in Lindsborg, Kansas, by Birger Sandzen and Dickerson’s mentor Seward in 1931, he chose the church at Cañoncito as his subject.

The Prairie Print Makers society was created to further the interest of printmaking and collecting among both artists and the public. Following the initial meeting of the eight charter members, the group nominated Dickerson as the first artist to join the new organization. To promote printmaking as an art form, the organization commissioned one print each year from a member artist for distribution to associate members (those who collected prints).

Refs.: Clinton Adams, Printmaking in New Mexico, 1880–1990; Bill North, ed., The Regionalist Vision of William Dickerson; Barbara Thompson O’Neill and George C. Foreman, The Prairie Print Makers.

Biography from Richard A. DeVore:
William Judson Dickerson was, and remains, the most representative Kansas painter and printmaker in Kansas art history. He is the only painter of recognized national rank to have been born in Kansas and to have spent his entire career of more than 40 years painting Kansas subjects, teaching art to Kansans and mentoring Kansas art students of exceptional ability and talent. He was a teacher at the Chicago Art Institute and a finalist for a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1932. His work was chosen to represent Kansas in the Worlds Fair in New York in 1932.

In his long and distinguished career, he was a leader in the development of professional art groups such as the Prairie Print Makers and the Prairie Watercolor Society. He was the recipient of numerous awards gained from competitive exhibitions in some of the nation¹s most prestigious museums. He was admired and accepted as a leader by other painters and art educators throughout the state. He was for all of his career the most active, productive and influential among professional artists living and working in Kansas.

His work was shown in one-man or group exhibitions at major museums and galleries all over the nation. These include The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Chicago Art Institute; The Kansas City Art Institute; Denver Art Museum; Oakland Art Museum; California Palace of the Legion of Honor; Library of Congress; Colorado Springs Fine Art Center; Oklahoma City Art Center; Tulsa Art Museum; Joslyn Art Museum; Wichita Art Museum; Sandzen Memorial Gallery; Pennsylvania Watercolor Club; Philadelphia Art Alliance; Thayer Museum at University of Kansas; Kansas State University, Manhattan; Arizona State College, Flagstaff; Santa Fe Art Museum; and the Toronto (Canada) Art Museum. His collected works include many of these and other public and private collections. He is listed in Who¹s Who in American Art..

Courtesy of Richad A. DeVore

Biography from Birger Sandzen Memorial Gallery:
William Judson Dickerson
(1904-1972)

William Dickerson was born in 1904 in El Dorado, Kansas. Two years later the family moved to Wichita where Dickerson made his home for the rest of his life, raising a family, developing a career as a painter and print maker, and inspiring generations of young artists. Dickerson received his earliest art instruction at the School of the Wichita Art Association (now the Wichita Center for the Arts).

In 1926, with the encouragement of Wichita printmakers C.A. Seward and Clarence Hotvedt, Dickerson enrolled at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His four-year study there included special training in lithography with noted artist Bolton Brown. Although he was offered a teaching position at the Art Institute following his graduation, Dickerson chose to return to Wichita in 1930 to teach at the School of the Wichita Art Association as one of the state’s most important centers of studio art instruction.

William Dickerson became a leading member of the Prairie Print Makers, the Prairie Watercolor Painters and the Wichita Artists Guild. During his long and productive career, Dickerson showed his prints and paintings in major museums, art clubs, and universities nationwide.

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