The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on May 4, 1997 · Page 85
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 85

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Salina, Kansas
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Sunday, May 4, 1997
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Page 85
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14 1 " SUNDAY; MAY 4, it997 COUTTS MUSEUM THE SALINA JOURNAL Art, in a Small Town El Dorado's Courts Museum boasts treasures collected and donated by oil baron By RUSSELL FORTMEYER Tlie Wichita Eagle L DORADO — You won't find oil in the Coutts Memorial Museum i of Art. But this downtown museum boasts some paintings depicting scenes of an oil boom similar to the one that transformed this farming community into a .refinery town so many .years ago. The Coutts is one of those small museums tucked quietly into many small towns in Kansas. It's an unconventional art museum that offers residents of this bustling city of nearly 13,000 an opportunity to engage themselves with art. The Coutts (pronounced COOTS) fronts Main Street with a sternly classical facade, a remnant of an old bank design from a time when banks bolstered their images with architecture. Exterior granite columns and pediments give way to a warmly handsome interior. The main gallery is a miniaturized grand hotel lobby complete with oriental rug, Spanish chandeliers and Mexican carved wood furniture. Gracing the walls of this two-story-high gallery are the Courts' finest treasures: its collection of older European paintings such as Georges Jeannin's "Floral Study," a delicate and colorful bouquet of flowers half-drenched in a cascade of sunlight. Situated in and around the slender gallery columns with gilt cornices, the largest collection of Frederic Remington bronze sculptures in Kansas sits on tables. Overshadowing the room is an oversized Jack N. Hayward painting, "The Walnuts," featuring a sweeping view of a Kansas farmstead. The painting was commissioned for the museum by the late Warren Hall Coutts Jr., its founder, who died in 1988. In the extreme left side of the painting, Warren "Bud" Hall Coutts III sits on his favorite horse, Tucker, a reminder of Coutts Jr.'s intention of making the museum a memorial to his only son and law partner, who died young in a plane crash in 1965. The only thing that isn't obvious when first entering the Coutts is the vastness, and quality, of the art collection. After the initial shock of discovering an art museum on the prairie of Kansas, you can begin to understand and appreci- lx>okiiu> lor an opportunity to succeed in your own business? We're looking for enthusiastic & motivated self- starters who are eager to succeed in their own business. Are you the right person? If you: • Love our products • Like people • Enjoy making money, while having fun at the same time. Thisisfaryou! X Supervising & rViivuMtratPf Opportunities Available IS NoCishInvestment The Associated Press Rhonda Hodges, president and treasurer of the Coutts Museum board of directors, stands In one of the exhibit vaults In a former bank building. ate why the Coutts attracts visitors from as far away as the East Coast and has maintained a loyal following with the art patrons of El Dorado. Its galleries aren't white-walled and spacious but human-scaled and inviting. A trip to the Coutts is like an invitation to an art lover's house. To Rhoda Hodges, who has given 43 years of her life to both Warren Coutts and the museum, the appeal of the Coutts is no surprise. "The main comment we get from visitors from the East and West coasts is they can't believe we have a museum with this collection hidden away in this little community," said Hodges, president and treasurer of the Coutts board of directors. Hodges runs the Coutts Museum with Terri Scott, who is secretary to the board. Hodges and Scott were legal secretaries for Coutts and have helped operate the museum since he closed his law firm. The last curator, Helen Fee, died in 1988, the day after Coutts' death. Denise Morris, owner and proprietor of Antioch Market Limited in El Dorado — who is a certified art appraiser, member of the Coutts board of trustees and a recent appointee to the Kansas Arts Commission — stepped in after Coutts' death to help reorganize the museum. She worked, before leaving last July, to catalog the collection, set up a computer inventory, develop more educational programming for local schoolchildren and begin preparations to appraise and insure the collection. Born and raised in El Dorado, Coutts spent most of his retirement in other countries. Hodges said that when Coutts died he didn't have one living relative, so his estate was bequeathed to the museum. Hilltboro Sunflowar JOURS HMrt * Alaska JUIM 10-July 4 (25 days), Wisconsin/Dells HaoKbtac Island May2e-June7(11 days) Alaska/a* Qlacler CnilM M ._July lft-24 (9 days) '1,1 N Newfoundland August 1-21 (21 days) British Columbia/Canadian Heckles September 2-16 (15 days).... Neva SeeUa/PH/Quebec Stpt. 18- M ,__ October S (18 days) 'l.ltl Fan/New Inoland ft Canada September 22-Octob»r 5 (14 days) HI Fall/Smoky Meuntalne/Naehvllle/ .... •raneen Oct. 20-27 (8 days) 1M New Zealand plue Australia M Nov. 8-24 (19 days) *Z,|M Can or write for 1997 Catato* STOP IN FOR LUNCH 5 flavors of cookies baked fresh daily. Buy a cookie or buy a dozen. The Perfect G^ft • Unique Baskets • Collectible Mugs all tilled with cookies and much more! 823-6567 Opening May 16th For Reservations and Information Call (913) 825-7381 You've twet keen avnpity tihe ttte! Til© Cotitts Memorial of Art • Where: 110 N. Main, El Dorado. • Hours: 1 to 5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday; 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday. • Admission: Free. • Phone: 316-321-1212. The board, which includes many local business leaders and their spouses, has had recent conflicts with the issue of charging admission and the planned construction of a new building. Hodges said the board would like to begin charging admission and to start a paid membership program, changes with which she disagrees. "Mr. Coutts didn't want us to ever charge for anything," Hodges said. "We'd have to do that for a new building." While it's- unlikely the Coutts location will be changing soon, the collection — more than 2,000 pieces — and exhibition schedule change all the time. Recent acquisitions include "Barn in Moonlight" and "Daytime Windmill" by Newton artist Phil Epp, who is widely known for creating a print to benefit the Z-Bar Ranch national park project. Radically departing from the homegrown art, a third-floor parlor accents French artists. Prints by Impressionist artists as Renoir and Degas cover the walls. A CULTURAL ••^••••MVMMWMMqMHMM when you're in Kansli 109 year old Victorian Eastern European Exhibit Arts & Crafts Fair Sat., May 17, 8:30 - 3:00 Downtown Sterling, KS on Broadway Handcrofled items only Entertainment & Concessions Interested vendors please call: Sterling Chamber of Commerce , 316-278-3360 ^ .

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