Exhibit closes after months at SD Art Museum


After having the “Masters of the Golden Age: Harvey Dunn and His Students” exhibit on display for four months, the South Dakota Art Museum is removing the exhibit. 

The exhibit opened at the South Dakota Art Museum and will next be traveling to the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Mass. and then to the Hunter Museum of American Art in Chattanooga, Tenn.

The exhibit opened May 5 at the Kelly Collection of American Illustration Art. The Norman Rockwell Museum allied itself alongside the South Dakota Art Museum to put together these paintings, a two-year process. Many of the paintings belonged to the South Dakota Art Museum, while several others were on loan from the Norman Rockwell Museum and the Kelly Collection of American Illustration Art. Among some of Harvey Dunn’s students on display were Dean Cornwell, Frank Street, Henry C. Pitz, Mead Schaeffer and Arthur Sarnoff.

For the closing reception of the exhibit, Elizabeth Marecki Aberding, curator of the Kelly Collection of American Illustration Art, spoke about the stories some of the paintings told. One explanation about a painting that Aberding shared was of Irvin S. Cobb’s “Black and White” from the Saturday Evening Post (Sept. 7, 1912). According to Aberding, the painting is “all about love and loyalty.” The slave in the painting deeply cares about the young man, who happens to be killed in a first battle. At first the slave has no money, but he is later freed and finds a well-paying job. To fulfill his promise to the boy, he takes the money he earned and buries the boy in his own family’s plot, much to the ridicule of his contemporaries, thus losing the respect he once had.

Mariam Melkumyan, a graphic and interactive design professor, appreciated Elizabeth Aberding’s presentation about the stories behind the art, because it helped her further appreciate the illustrations.

“[H]ow much story there is in some of these and without knowing all that, you may not notice some of the, maybe, facial expressions or some of the things that are happening,” Melkumyan said. “But now that you know… the whole story behind it, it becomes much more interesting and more engaging in some way. And, on the other hand, you really see the action and the moment that they capture. I really appreciate that … in the paintings.”

Steve Meek, a temporary instructor and an illustrator and designer from Kansas City, provided some first-hand experience on the process.

“Well, it’s actually related to me because I’m an illustrator. . .and I mostly did magazine illustrations. . . I really enjoy the whole process because you’re reading and you’re thinking and you’re getting visuals and it’s very specific to the article, you know. So the illustration goes with the article and tries to entice the viewer to actually read the story. It’s a very enjoyable process to be a magazine illustrator.”

“Masters of the Golden Age: Harvey Dunn and His Students” closed on Sept. 13. The reception was on Sept. 11.