Hot and Cold: Images of America in Conflict

Exhibition dates: Feb. 20, 2009 - Apr. 19, 2009

James W. Johnson, Director of Rickerby Art Services in Wichita and curatorial consultant, has gathered art from American experiences of war into a special exhibition “Hot and Cold: Images of America in Conflict.” The exhibition features thirty-three works ranging from the wood engraving “Kansas Sketches” published in Harper’s Weekly in 1858, to “Iraq Identity Playing Cards” printed in 2003 by the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency.

The show emerged when Johnson realized that all of his 58 years were lived under the cloud of conflict. Said Johnson, “First, the Korean ‘police action,’ then the Cold War, then Viet Nam, then the Cold War, then Grenada, then Panama, then the Cold War (am I repeating myself?), then Iraq, then Iraq...”

Times of war and conflict produce powerful images within a society. Johnson assembled the exhibition from his personal collection as well as pieces borrowed from artists’ private collections, the Emprise Bank collection, and Watermark West collection.

Included in the show are works by artists with regional connections. Printmakers David Bernard and John Boyd spent their careers at Wichita State University while Bob Regier taught at Bethel College. Joel C. Moss taught and served as department chair at Fort Hays State University. Wichitan Thomas Coleman attained national status while teaching at the University of Nebraska. Laura Gilpin, best known for her photography of the southwest, worked at Boeing during the World War II years.

“Hot and Cold” also includes “America is Waiting,” a 1982 work by experimental filmmaker Bruce Conner (1933-2008) who was recognized at the 2009 Oscar awards ceremony. Born in McPherson, Kansas, Conner was raised in Wichita and attended Wichita University before moving to Nebraska University and then San Francisco. Conner is known for his compact and explosive style and has been called “the father of MTV-style editing.” Film critics suggest viewing the four-minute “America is Waiting” multiple times to penetrate the layers of interlocking visual connections set to audio by avant-rock pioneers David Byrne and Brian Eno—including a political rant by an indignant San Francisco radio host.

Said Johnson, “I collected many of these works because I knew and admired the artists. The Vito Acconci is always displayed in my home.” Acconci’s set of etchings “Three Flags for One Space and Six Regions” figures prominently in a 1982 portrait of Johnson painted by James Bartz.

“The spirit of the show is about the images relating to conflicts that surround us,” said Johnson. “The actions of the George W. Bush administration prompted me to make a statement about the value and effects of a policy of conflict.”

Art and politics will be the subject of a Sunday-Afternoon-at-the-Museum program at Kauffman Museum on April 19, 3:30 pm. Rachel Epp Buller, art historian and Bethel College assistant professor of art, will present an illustrated lecture “Looking at Protest Art.”

The widespread fear of nuclear war is reflected in “Fallout” by Robert Regier (intaglio, 1960, Emprise Bank Collection).
Guest curator James W. Johnson with "Baby Boomer" by Joel Knocke (pastel, 1985), a WSU graduate now Associate Professor at San Antonio College, San Antonio, Texas.
316•283•1612   kauffman@bethelks.edu
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