Feb 23, 2024

🎙 Hays Arts Council to showcase Thorns, Pederson in dual exhibits

Posted Feb 23, 2024 11:01 AM
Artwork by John C. Thorns Jr.
Artwork by John C. Thorns Jr.

Hays Post

The Hays Arts Council will open two exhibits of artists with ties to Fort Hays State University — one a former professor and the other his student.

An opening reception will be from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Friday for "John C. Thorns Jr.: A Creative Legacy" and "Doloris Pederson: First Chapters in Visual Biography." Admission to the exhibits and reception is free.

Thorns was the chairman of the FHSU art department. The art that will be featured in this exhibit are collage and acrylic works from 2003 to 2013, which was about the last decade of his life.

The Moss-Thorns Gallery of Art on the FHSU campus is named in part for him. He also designed the stained-glass windows in the First Presbyterian Church on Hall Street in Hays.

"Over the many decades of his creative, his collage elements were more understated, and there were big flows of acrylic used as a water media sort of around it," Brenda Meder, Hays Arts Council director, said. 

"Later on, he really loved filling the space with the collage elements, but then they were joined together by his creative hand."

Artwork by John C. Thorns Jr.
Artwork by John C. Thorns Jr.

You might think of young children doing collage, but Meder said Thorns had incredible precision and craftsmanship in his work.

He would bring together dozens and dozens of pieces of collage to make one large piece of work, Meder said. He would then use acrylics or pastels to meld the components together.

Because of the layering in Thorns' work, it should be viewed in person, so you can look at the whole and then look at it up close and see the nature of the layering in the collage.

Almost three dozen of Thorns' pieces will be displayed, with another 20 in the art center's gift gallery. Thorns willed these art pieces to the FHSU Foundation upon his death and are on loan to the art center.

Select pieces of Thorns' work will be for sale. His work has sold for as much as $1,900, but works associated with this show are selling for $950.

Artwork by Doloris Pederson
Artwork by Doloris Pederson

Doloris Pederson is a Hays native and was one of Thorns' students. After studying at FHSU, she moved with her family to California. She has been a professional artist her whole adult life and earned many accolades in her own right, Meder said.

The art in Pederson's exhibit dates back to her early years of art exploration in the 1960s through 2003.

She depicts California imagery, but she has also traveled extensively, including to visit with her daughter, who lives in the Netherlands.

That was all inspiration for her work, Meder said. She has also created many florals, and her artwork is in the Hadley Foundation collection, which is displayed at the hospital.

Pederson is living back in Hays and will be attending the opening reception.

Although not affiliated with the Hays Arts Council, the Moss-Thorns Gallery will have a closing exhibit from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday for"Kansas Clay MFA," which are ceramics created by the master of fine arts students and faculty from the University of Kansas, Kansas State University, Wichita State University and FHSU. Admission is also free.

The Hays Arts Council is taking submissions for its youth creative writing contest. Ellis County students in kindergarten through 12th grade, through their teachers or independently, are invited to submit prose and poetry works to this annual competition.

Members of the FHSU English Department serve as the judging panel, and an award ceremony is in late spring. Find more information on the arts council website at https://haysartscouncil.org/. The deadline for entries is March 6.

The arts council is also accepting submissions for the 55-annual Smoky Hill Art Exhibition. Artists will submit works online for this juried exhibit with prizes totaling $3,000. Information on that exhibition can also be found on the arts council website. The deadline for entries is March 19.

The exhibit will anchor the Hays Arts Council Spring Art Walk on April 27.