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 Cyrus Maynard Running  (1913 - 1976)

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Lived/Active: Minnesota/South Dakota      Known for: landscape, mural, mosaics, woodcut

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Cyrus Maynard Running
An example of work by Cyrus Maynard Running
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
Biography from Fine Arts Collection, Luther College:
Cyrus Maynard Running was born in Veblen, South Dakota, on August 2, 1913, to the Rev. Alfred Running and Sophia Olsen Running. Both his parents were born in America but had family ties to the Trondheim and Nordfjord areas in Norway. Running received his grade school education in Montana and Idaho but was in high school from 1926-1930 in Zumbrota, MN. He attended St. Olaf College, Northfield, MN, where he received his BA degree in 1934, majoring in history and biology. He continued his education by doing graduate work at Yale University School of Fine Arts where he studied for two years. He received his MA from the University of Iowa in 1940 where he studied with Grant Wood.

He taught high school science and music in Wisconsin and art at the University of Omaha before he was hired to head the art department at Concordia College in Moorhead, MN, in 1940. During his years at Concordia, he also studied at the University of Minnesota and received a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Instituto Allendo in San Miguel, Mexico. He remained at Concordia College until his retirement in 1974. He died on December 25, 1976. In 1940, he married Eldrid Thorpe, also an artist, with whom he raised four children. Running’s older brother, Orville M. Running, is the College Artist at Luther College and was the long-time chair of the Art Department, with many works represented in the Fine Arts Collection. His younger brother, Paul D. Running, has retired from the art department faculty at Bowling Green State University and also has paintings in the Fine Arts Collection.

Running was known as a teacher and leader as well as an artist. While at Concordia, he expanded the art department program leaving behind a strong tradition in the visual arts. In recognition of his accomplishments, a bronze bust of Running was commissioned which was dedicated in 1978. In addition, The Cyrus M. Running Gallery at the College was named in his honor. While on the faculty at Concordia, he designed the mural/backdrops for the annual Christmas concerts which he created with student help for thirty years. Several of his works are also displayed on the campus in various buildings.

Running exhibited at the Minnesota State Fair in 1942, 1944, 1958, 1961, 1964 and 1968. He also exhibited at the Minneapolis Institute of Art in 1959 and 1961 and at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis in 1947, 1949, 1956 and 1962. In 1958, he was invited to exhibit four works at the Walker. His works were displayed at the Red River annual art exhibitions from 1960-1963, 1965, and 1967. Works by Running were included in the exhibition sponsored by the Minnesota Historical Society at the James J. Hill House in Minneapolis during 2000. In addition, he regularly exhibited at the Luther College Fine Arts Festivals, which were held from the late 1950’s through the 1960’s. During these years, he also was a judge at several festivals.

Running was also known for creating sixteen large architectural commissions consisting of paintings, murals and mosaics. He illustrated at least two books, Fjords and Faces by Kristian Prestgard (Augsburg, 1937) and Streiftog: Stemninger og Skildringer by the same author (Augsburg, 1937). His paintings also illustrated a booklet entitled Stewardship: Christianity Lived Responsibly for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in 1957.

The Luther College Fine Arts Collection contains seven works by Cyrus Running, all but one purchased at the Fine Arts Festivals sponsored by Luther College. Red River Skyline (1965) and Evening Late Winter (1960) are both color woodcuts purchased in 1965 and 1960. Building Design with Incidental Figures (1963), Strange City, Evening (1956) and Incident at the Well (1961) are oil paintings purchased in 1964, 1957, and 1962. Fall, Clay County (1962) is a watercolor purchased in 1963 from the Fine Arts Festival by President Emeritus Elwin D. and Helen Farwell and donated to the Fine Arts Collection. Moorhead Views, also a watercolor, was purchased by Sally and Erling Naeseth in the early 1960’s and donated to the Fine Arts Collection in 2000.

Ref: Nelson, Marion John. Painting by Minnesotans of Norwegian Background, 1870-1970. [Northfield, MN]: Norwegian-American Historical Association, 2000;; Running, Cyrus M. Cyrus Running: Artist/Teacher: a Retrospective Exhibition September 13 through October 6, 1974, Red River Art Center, Moorhead, Minnesota. Fargo, ND: Kayes, 1974.

Written and submitted by Jane Kemp
Professor; Circulation-Special Collections Librarian
Supervisor, Fine Arts Collection (
Luther College
Decorah, IA 52101

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