A rare Prairie Printmaker sighting

About three dozen rarely viewed works of art by Clarence Hotvedt, one of the charter members of the esteemed Prairie Printmakers, will be part of an exhibition opening Friday at Artworks gallery.

"Prairie Printmaker Clarence Hotvedt and Friends" also will include works by Hershel C. Logan, C.A. Seward, Leo Courtney, Lloyd Foltz and Birger Sandzen, who also were members of the famous group.

The group was begun in 1930 in Lindsborg by Seward, who hoped to ignite a revival in printmaking. It was by his invitation that the other 10 artists joined and formed the charter group. Over the years, the group grew to include nearly 100 artists from across the country.

Reuben Saunders, who owns Artworks, said the exhibition gives art enthusiasts a rare chance to see Hotvedt's prints.

"What is really fun about Hotvedt's work is that it is quite hard to find," he said. "He only made about 40 prints during his career and usually made editions of 50 or less, and then he traded them with other artists. Some of these prints may have never been seen before by collectors because they have never been out on the market."

The pieces in the exhibition include 33 of Hotvedt's prints as well as some of his oils and watercolors. Saunders worked with Hotvedt's two sons, Ken and Randy Ramsey, in California to put the show together.

"Ken and Randy were Clarence's stepsons, but they were so close, the boys always thought of Clarence as their father," Saunders said. "Ken and Randy's mother had kept scores of Clarence's artworks and his collection of others' prints, which she and her sons had cherished for years.

"After their mother passed away, Ken and Randy kept many of their favorite prints ... and the remainder of the art went toward this exhibition. What is seen in this exhibit is only a fraction of what I went through from the family's collection.

"These are all such treasures. For me it has such a wow factor. I am running into work of both Hotvedt's and other artists that I have never seen before. To view these works that Clarence had valued in his own personal collection is very special."

Saunders noted that Hotvedt made his way to Wichita by pure fate. Originally from Wisconsin, he went to school in Chicago and graduated from the Chicago Art Institute in 1923. After a lengthy time looking for work, Hotvedt ran into a former schoolmate on a street corner in Chicago named Ed Kopeitz, who was from Wichita.

Kopeitz told Hotvedt that he should talk to his friend, C.A. Seward of Wichita, who was art director of Western Lithograph and was looking to hire.

"Seward hired Hotvedt and thus began their long association and Hotvedt's first connection to what would be the renowned Prairie Printmakers," Saunders said.

If you go>

'Prairie Printmaker Clarence Hotvedt and Friends'

What: Exhibit of prints and other works by members of the Prairie Printmakers

Where: Artworks Gallery, Piccadilly Square, Central and Rock Road

When: 6-8 p.m. Friday

How much: Admission is free. For more information, call 316-682-1481.