A Thursday afternoon ceremony at Fort Hays State University put the official stamp of approval on a special delivery that will serve as the centerpiece for the university's planned Alumni-Endowment Center.
Speaking in a news conference at the Moss-Thorns Gallery of Art, Dr. Edward H. Hammond, FHSU president, announced that the Association of Community Arts Agencies of Kansas had presented the 650 original artworks from the ACAAK's Kansas Postcard Competition to the university.
" We have long admired the Kansas Postcard Series, and we're proud of the distinguished performance by FHSU artists during the 25 years of the annual competition," the president said. "We submitted a proposal in April to become the permanent home of the collection, and we plan to display the Kansas Postcard Series in our new Alumni-Endowment Center. The Alumni-Endowment Center will be an ideal home for the collection because it will be a gathering place visited by people who have a highly developed appreciation for art and for our state."
Lorne Render, chairman of the ACAAK board of directors, presented the collection to President Hammond at Thursday's news conference. He introduced Romalyn Tilghman, Long Beach, CA, former executive director of ACAAK and originator of the postcard project, and Ellen Morgan, current executive director of ACAAK.
Render said: "The Association of Community Arts Agencies of Kansas is very pleased to place this outstanding collection, which covers 25 years of art by Kansas artists, at Fort Hays State University, This collection is truly an important artistic record by those living, working and capturing the many aspects of this state. We would like to thank all the artists who participated in the postcard collection project and the many wonderful sponsors whose generosity over the years made this collection possible. Fort Hays State University will provide many opportunities for this collection to be seen by the citizens of Kansas, and we are delighted to pass the collection into their care."
As the name implies, the postcard-sized artworks capture the sense of place, community and artistic expression known as Kansas. The collection has become one of the most popular and most recognized in the state.
Virgil Scott, FHSU Endowment Association president and CEO, explained that the university was in the final stages of designing the Alumni-Endowment Center. "The quality of this collection speaks for itself. This significant series of art works will be a tremendous addition to our future center. It will really make our 'place to call home' for alumni and friends a center of art appreciation for the community, region and state."
The news conference was conducted in the Moss-Thorns Gallery because the Kansas Postcard Collection has been on display there since an opening reception on Friday, Oct. 1. The show will continue through Oct. 27. The gallery is located on the first floor of Rarick Hall, which is on the northeast corner of the university "quad." The hours for the show are 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The Kansas Postcard Series is a veritable who's who of artists with connections to FHSU and Hays. The local artists include: Dr. Joel Moss, Kathleen Kuchar, John C. Thorns Jr., Joanne Harwick, Gordon Sherman, Michael Jilg, Jennifer Isaac, Tina Nipper-Hagley, Scott Lee, Jenny Kenne, Ben Schlitter, Ralph Sparks, Robert Terrill, Tait Jeter, Kara Kramer, Sujin Wattanawongchai, Sue-Ching You, Margaret Tettero, Phillip Robl, Mike Lee, Bruce Burkholder, Edna M. Giebler, Sean McGinnis, Connie Busch and Richard Starr.
The successful proposal to bring the noted art collection to FHSU was a community effort. Brenda Meder, executive director of the Hays Arts Council, and Ruben Schuckman, tourism marketing manager for the Hays Convention and Visitors Bureau, pledged their active support for the endeavor.
Michael Florian Jilg, FHSU professor of art, was most instrumental in bringing the collection here.
The FHSU Department of Art will assume responsibility for the normal care and maintenance of the collection. ACAAK will retain copyright of the artwork, but FHSU will regulate permission for the use of reproductions of the artwork for educational purposes and for promotion of the university.