(shown above: Gray Day, before and after restoration)
It is the mission of the USD 465 Art Restoration Committee to continuously display the USD 465 historic art collection and use it to expand the district’s art education programs by providing access to high-quality art and artists to both students and the larger community. The collection comprises more than 150 works including oils and lithographs by nationally-recognized artist and art educator Birger Sandzen. Also contained within the collection are works from Prairie Printmakers such as Norma Bassett Hall, William Arthur Hall, and Hershel Logan. More locally-recognized artists who have contributed to the collection include Sue Jean Hill Covacevich and Grace Raymond.
Robert Hartley, a Winfield High School alumnus, presented a compelling story about the district’s art collection at the 2012 Winfield History Day celebration. In this well-researched and historically accurate account, Mr. Hartley recognized Superintendent Evan E. Evans for originating the collection as early as 1926. Superintendent Evans officially opened an art gallery at the Winfield High School in 1936. At the
opening ceremony, Mr. Evans stated, “We have the feeling that maybe 100 years from now young people from a wide section of the Southwest may make pilgrimages to Winfield to see our paintings.” Through this restoration effort, Mr. Evan’s dream will be realized.
Superintendent Evan’s also stated, “We have a theory we can do more for the children than just give them readin’, ‘ritin’, and ‘rithmetic. We would like to give them something the Depression can’t take from them. We are working on the belief that we might be able to give the boys and girls some new doors to open.” The USD 465 Arts Restoration Committee sees many parallels between Mr. Evans’ statement about the Depression and the economic times in Kansas today. Many children who attend the USD 465 public school system are from families of poverty and would never have access to the quality of art provided in this collection.
The committee is seeking funds to defray costs for restoration of all pieces of art within the collection identified as high priority. Conservation will be completed by Van Witt Fine Art Conservation. Conservator Peggy Van Witt abides by the American Institute for the Conservation of Historic Works (AIC) Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Practice. Treatment includes before-and- after photography (digital images) with other photos as necessary. A treatment record and photos will be provided with the completed project. Conservation materials are selected for their performance.
It is also the goal of the committee to provide appropriate climate-controlled storage in a secure environment. Ultimately, the committee hopes to open a gallery at the high school to display the more prominent pieces of art along with Winfield High School student art.
To date the Foundation has raised over $16,000 used towards restoration and care of the collection. Donations to the restoration project are 501(c)3 tax exempt and are deposited into the Evan E. Evans Art Restoration Fund through the USD 465 Foundation.