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Exhibitions 1949-1950


September 9-11 1949
November 6-27
December 11-January 8

January-February 5 1950
February 12-March 2
February 26
March 26-April 11
April 13-27
April 30-May 18
May 21-June 10

Formal Opening of Larson Gallery

The Larson Museum and Art Gallery opened September 9-11, 1949.  The Yakima Herald wrote that the gallery was “built for modern shows and displays as well as a museum where relics of the past are housed.  Paintings may be hung on three levels on the especially constructed walls.  Extensive use of the glass brick aids in filtering natural light.”

The first artist to show their work was Percy L. Manser, an artist from Hood River, Oregon.  The printed program listed 40 paintings.

In addition to the work by Manser, the gallery also displayed a collection of Native American artifacts that were donated to the college by Lucullus V. McWhorter. 

L. V. McWhorter was a leading authority on Native American history of the region and author of Yellow Wolf: His Own Story.  In 1907, McWhorter had met Yellow Wolf, who had fought in the Nez Perce war of 1877.  He had become a good friend of the Yakama tribe and was adopted by Chief Yoom-te-bee. He also authored the pamphlet The Crime against the Yakimas and Tragedy of the Wahk-shum.  It was his close connection with the tribe that he collected many of the items. When McWhorter passed in October of 1944, much of his collection was donated later to Washington State College in Pullman, and the Yakama Indian items to Yakima Valley Junior College.

The head of the college, Elizabeth Prior, had the collection displayed originally at the Liberty building, but rent on display space proved to be too costly.  The collection was stored in the Yakima Senior High School vault until the building was finished, then 91 artifacts filled 10 cases at the Larson Gallery at the opening on September 9.

The original curator of the Larson museum and gallery was Guy Werden Brace, an instructor at Yakima Valley Junior College.  On October 16, 1949, a meeting was called by college board of directors  to set policies and procedures for the new Larson Gallery and Museum.  The college appointed several community members and asked that they set a schedule of days and hours to be open, to set a schedule for attendants, and to decide how to raise funds for paying exhibit expenses and selecting exhibits.

The first board consisted of Dean Harold Hoeglund, chairman, Milton L. Martin, superintendent of schools; Mrs. N. R. Sylvester, Daughters of the Pioneers; Paul B. Allen, Jr., Yakima Valley Arts association; Louisa G. Siverson, art supervisor for Yakima public schools; Homer B. Splawn, Yakima Historical Society; R.R. Glenn of the college board; and Arden Lawrie, college public relations director.

At the meeting, it was decided that the gallery would be open to the public three times a week beginning on November 6, 1949.  It would be open Tuesday and Thursday evenings, and Sunday afternoon.

Then on November 16, at 8pm, to coincide with the dedication of the Yakima Valley Junior College Elizabeth A. Prior Hall, the Larson would display historical items that were donated by Mr. and Mrs. A. E. Larson.

Octopus Bag
L.V. McWhorter Collection
On display in Larson Gallery 1949
Courtesy of Yakima Valley Museum

The Larson Museum and Gallery began its regular schedule on Sunday afternoon, November 6, 1949.  An exhibit of paintings by R. H. Ives Gammell had been at the Maryhill Museum of Fine Arts since June, where it had been seen by approximately 55,000 visitors.  Now it will be exhibited at the Larson before being shipped back to Boston.  Gammell was known for painting imagery that reflected his study of literature, mythology, psychology, and religion.

It was at this time that the gallery committee began to discuss issues such as financing for exhibits and shipping, and a place for storage of art and artifacts while other artwork is on exhibit. 

Schools and groups were now encouraged to arrangements to see the exhibit that had now been seen by nearly 1,000 visitors.  The gallery had also been opened on Monday and Wednesday mornings for junior college students to visit in between classes.

In addition to the Gammell paintings, items from the collection of Mr. & Mrs A. E. Larson were on view.  The gallery also included the McWhorter collection and items on loan from Mrs. C. A. Jones.  By December 6, 1949, the gallery had recorded 3,782 visitors. 

On December 11, an exhibit of Central Washington College of Education instructors opened. The artists make up the fine and industrial arts faculty.

Sara Spurgeon

Sarah Spurgeon, 1956, Hyakem
Central Washington State College

The faculty include Sarah Spurgeon, pastels; Glenn Hogue, ceramics; Josephine Burley, sculpture; Reino Randall, silkscreen, textiles, copper, pewter, and commercial layouts;  and Neil Koch, watercolor and tempera. Although the gallery was closed on Christmas day, regular hours followed until exhibit closing on January 5, 1950.

Hungarian born artist Francis de Erdely and professor of art with the University of Southern California, would be featured in the next exhibit at Larson. The exhibit of 40 drawings featured mainly drawings of the human figure and a few watercolors.  It provided the general public with an opportunity to see the work of an international artist and provided art students in Yakima an opportunity to study technique.  The work of Erdely opened on January 8, 1950 and continued through February 5.

Yakima artist and instructor at Franklin Junior High School John D. Reppeteaux, displayed 27 of his paintings for an opening on February 12, 1950.  The opening “drew hundreds” and stayed open an hour after customary closing time.  The show closed on March 2, 1950.  A selection of the work would be exhibited later that summer at Maryhill Museum.

On March 5, The Fritz L. Wertz collection of paintings opened.  Considered a “one-man show” like Reppeteaux’s, the subjects were based on pioneer scenes and people around Gold Hill, Oregon.  Wertz referred to himself as a “primitive hillbilly artist”. In addition to the watercolors by Wertz, the Larson Gallery and Museum also displayed 100 soap carvings made by students and adults, and a the Japanese and Korean collection of Norman Marshall.  Marshall was an instructor at Yakima Valley Junior College who had served as a civilian employee for the military in Korea and Japan.  The exhibit continued through March 24, when it was replaced with an exhibit of watercolors and drawings by Portland artist Menalkas Selander. 

During the opening of the Selander exhibit, he gave a demonstration in the college’s little theatre room, “which was filled to capacity with art teachers, students, and others interested in art.”  The original date for closing of the exhibit was April 9, but was extended through Tuesday, April 11, 1950 to allow more visitors.  By April 4, it had been seen by 1200 adults plus numerous school groups.

From April 13 to the 27th, a traveling exhibit of seven Northwest watercolor artists from the Henry Art Gallery at the University of Washington opened.  The artists were all instructors at Washington State Colleges–Douglas A. Murray, Andrew L Hoffmeister, James E. Peck, Mitchell Jamison, Ray Hill, Alden C. Mason, and Neil A. Koch.

Then on April 30, a traveling exhibit of 27 watercolors opened at Larson featured the artwork from the Women Painters of Washington.  Included in the exhibit were two watercolors, Indian Village at Neah Bay and After the Blizzard by Dorothy Dolph Jensen, one of the founders of the Women Painters of Washington.  On of the co-founders, Myra Wiggens, also was exhibited and touted as a relative of Reuben Benz of Yakima. 

In addition to the traveling exhibit were three watercolors by Blanche McLane Cook, who formerly taught at Yakima Valley Junior College.  The Sisters of Providence, celebrating their 75th year, had one case filled with historical items, several cases were filled with artifact from the Daughters of the Pioneers of Washington, and one with a collection of elephants belonging to Mrs. S. P. Street.  This exhibit concluded on May 18. 

The first year of the Larson Museum and Gallery concluded with the exhibit by artist Maude Walling Wanker in partnership with the Yakima Valley Art Association.  She was a founding officer of the Oregon Amateur Watercolor Society and the Master Watercolor Association.

The gallery closed for the summer on June 10.