125 @ KCAI

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Jannes Library and Learning Center

125 @ September 10, 2010
Mamie Jane Gates Whipple, original owner of the mansion at 4538 Warwick.  Date unknown.

Mamie Jane Gates Whipple, original owner of the mansion at 4538 Warwick. Date unknown.

KCAI’s Jannes Library and Learning Center at 4538 Warwick Boulevard opened its doors on March 25, 2002. The wonderfully renovated mansion houses the library, the college’s archives, the Academic Resource Center, career services and a computer lab.  A newly constructed two-story addition to the west side of the mansion houses the library’s stacks.

The historic mansion was built in 1908 by the banker and realtor B. Thompson Whipple and his wife Mamie Jane Gates Whipple. The architect of the Whipple residence was Adriance Van Brunt, prominent in Kansas City for his architecture and his work on Kansas City’s park board and namesake of Van Brunt Boulevard.

To see images of a military musicale and review held at the Whipple home, now KCAI’s Jannes Library, click http://www.kchistory.org/u?/Assorted,957 The images are made available by the Missouri Valley Collection, Kansas City Public Library, and come from the World War I Scrapbook, DAR, Kansas City Chapter.

The second owner of the mansion, Clinton Gates, inherited the property from Mrs. Whipple, his aunt. Under his ownership the house was a rental property until 1943. Frederick H. and Betty Drage Harvey were residents during this period. Mr. Harvey, grandson of the Fred Harvey of restaurant fame, and his wife were prominent in Kansas City’s social scene. The Harveys were members of the Kansas City Art Institute and supporters of the Nelson Gallery of Art and Atkins Museum, as it was known then.

The drawing room of Frederick and Betty Harvey at 4538 Warwick.

The drawing room of Frederick and Betty Harvey at 4538 Warwick.

In 1943, the mansion was purchased by its third owners, the John R. Cunningham family. During the Cunningham occupancy, the home was known for its beautiful gardens, lovingly tended by Mrs. Cunningham, a master gardener. In 1987, the Cunningham family donated the home to Rockhurst University, and the mansion remained vacant until Rockhurst sold the residence to KCAI in 1999. By the spring of 2001, construction on the future Jannes Library was under way.

Rear view of 4538 Warwick, possibly during the Harvey occupancy, circa 1933.

Rear view of 4538 Warwick, possibly during the Harvey occupancy, circa 1933.

Our beautiful library was made possible through the generosity of Nicholas Jannes (1924 -2009).  Mr. Jannes received a B.F.A. degree from KCAI in 1950 and M.F.A. degree in 1951, and served as a KCAI board member from 1984 to 2002.

Nick Jannes in Jannes Library, February, 2006.

Nick Jannes in Jannes Library, February, 2006.

In October 2002, BNIM Architects and KCAI received a merit award for excellence in design from the American Institute of Architects/Kansas City for the Jannes Library and Learning Center. In May, 2003, the Jannes Library and Learning Center received a Preservation Award from the Historic Kansas City Foundation in the rehabilitation category.

History of the KCAI Library

125 @ September 1, 2010

The  KCAI library has its origins in a gift of 800+ books donated in 1924 by Mrs. John F. Downing.  KCAI still retains many of those books, including Chats on English China, its first acquisition.

chats on english china

Accession books, the traditional method of keeping track of library acquisitions, show a wealth of information about the library’s early collection.


Over the years, the library moved with the school and was for many years in the lower level of the Dorm Building, which now houses the Art Store.

In March of 2002 the new Jannes Library and Learning Center opened its doors.  Named for alumnus and former board member Nicolas Jannes, it was through his generosity as well as that of other donors that the library was built.  It stands in a remodeled and expanded Georgian mansion on the southern end of campus and contains all the library’s collections, two computer labs for student use and also houses the Academic Resource Center.

Memories from the sculpture department

125 @ August 25, 2010

Robert Stillwell (’51 sculpture)

I have many fond memories of KCAI, especially my sculpture instructor Clark Winter. I am now 85 and still painting and sculpting. I was a friend of Robert Rauchenburg’s while we were students at KCAI.

Gary A. Yarrington (’58 sculpture)

After two years in the U.S. army and one year at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art in Philadelphia, I returned in 1957 to the KCAI.

My objective was to learn metal casting, particularly bronze. I did learn, and the knowledge served me well, and still does. As a sculpture major, I discovered that creating three dimensional art was complicated and required dedicated time and energy. From this experience I found I could take on large projects and see them through to completion. It was a valuable lesson for my future.

After graduating in 1959 with a MFA degree, I entered the museum profession. I eventually became curator of the museum for the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum. (Retired for 27 years). In this capacity I selected and did research on subjects of American history and designed the gallery space. These were large, complicated, three dimensional installations and I had the confidence it could be done.

I owe KCAI a lot. My memories were all good.  Also, I never stopped making sculpture. You can see my work on my website www.artbyyarrington.com

I want my $1,000 contribution to go toward scholarships. My last two years in school I was on the G.I. Bill and a full tuition merit scholarship from KCAI. It helped me immensely.

John Olsen (’65 sculpture)

Give us three words you would use to describe your time at the Art Institute (and why) :

Expensive: It cost over $700 a year. The Junior College I started at only cost $180. Exciting:I had never been on my own before. Educational: I had to sleep in a room with Ralph and Cindy.

The professor or course that most affected your work (and why):

Eldred: Dale changed my life and our friendship continued for many years.

The most important thing a faculty member ever said to you and under what circumstances it was said:

It was not what they said, it was what they did. They all made great art and their art spoke for them.

The best class or project you ever participated in:

1.Sculpture 2.Painting 3.Industural Design I enjoyed them all in that order.

The course was the most challenging and why:

Sculpture: We made a lot of mistakes. Burnouts were never hot or long enough. Molds blew up once in a while. Now thats a challenge.

One lesson that you learned at KCAI that still guides your career:

It is not what you think; it is not what you say; it is what you do that counts.

Tell us which classmates were your best friends and how you’ve kept in touch since college:

Steve Dubov, Zolton Popovits, Carl Floyd,Carl Ponca, Reilly Rhodes,Jim Enyeart and many more.  Unfortunately I have not kept in touch.

Your college sweetheart:

Jane, I married her while still at KCAI. While at Tulane we had two children. And two years later had another one. That may help to explain why I have not kept up with my  college friends.

Favorite hang-out on-campus:

Sculpture studio. We always worked late into the night.

The craziest thing you did while at KCAI:

My roommate (who shall remain anonymous because I am not sure what the statures of limitations are in Missouri) and I needed canvas for a painting to decorate our new apartment. My roommate knew that the music conservatory had some old stage props that they were not using. As we started over that night to appropriate one, it started to snow. We continued, thinking that it would give us cover. After the appropriation, as we approached our doorsteps, we realized what idiots we were. We had left a trail in the fresh snow that led from the conservatory to the door of our apartment. We spent the rest of the night running around in the snow trying to cover our trail.

The funniest experience at KCAI :

The house painting and goat roast at Stan Edmister’s. And, listening to Bob Dylan’s first album at Danny Christensen’s house.

Tell us about the moment that you truly knew that you were an artist/designer:

While at the Art Institue I entered one of my sculptures in a show at the Springfield,MO.Art Museum. It was accepted. I was accepted.

One moment here at KCAI that you will remember for the rest of your life:

While cleaning out the attic of the old painting studio building I found a Jackson Pollock drawing. Bill Paul would not let me keep it. I hope KCAI still has it.

The hardest lesson:

The life of art is in the struggle. When the struggle ends art dies.

Other special memories:

At the Beau Arts Ball in 1964, I dressed as a soldier using “war toys” I found in the toy stores. Jane dressed as a “Peace-nic” and carried a sign saying “Band the Bomb”. We won a best costume prize. Little did we know then that the Viet Nam War was just around the corner.

Sarah Biondo (’67 sculpture)

What professor or course most affected your work and why?

The lesson I learned from James Leedy were perseverance and determination as his life clearly demonstrates. Leedy would constantly tell us, over coffee in the cafeteria, “When you have enough gallery rejections to wallpaper a room, then and only then will you begin to become an artist.”

At the 1967 graduation ceremony, President Andrew Morgan said, “There will always be those who are making the scene in the name of art, while others are behind the scene making the art.” That particularly because a few of us in sculpture were working in the studio before the ceremony and were back to the studio to finish our work after the ceremony.

Graphic Design in the 60s

125 @ August 20, 2010
Seal created by a KCAI faculty member for the city.  Designer: John Baker, 1970.  Kansas City residents will recognize the center figure as gracing many of the city's manhole covers.

Seal created by a KCAI faculty member for the city. Designer: John Baker, 1970. Kansas City residents will recognize the center figure as gracing many of the city's manhole covers.

“Kansas City may seem an unlikely site for a revolution, but it was there, in the late 1960s, that a group of Swiss designers forever changed the way graphic design was taught in the United States.”  The quote is from “Bits and Pieces of Basel,” an article by Katherine McCoy that appeared in Print magazine’s March/April 2005 issue.  McCoy makes the case that KCAI offered “the first comprehensive graphic design curriculum for undergraduates and the first full-time, Swiss-trained faculty in the U. S.”  Rob Roy Kelly, the graphic design program chair, possessed a vision for transforming graphic design education.  Faculty members recruited by Kelly include Gordon Salchow (arriving in 1966) and the Swiss designers Inge Druckrey and Hans Allemann (arriving in 1966 and ’67, respectively).

Cover of KCAI Catalog, 1968.  Designer: Hans Allemann.

Cover of KCAI Catalog, 1968. Designer: Hans Allemann.

Armin Hofmann of Basel’s Kunstgewerbeschule fame was a pivotal influence on the developing graphic design program.  As McCoy recounts, Druckrey and Allemann adapted to teaching in the U.S. by experimenting, inventing the necessary vocabulary, and spending time with students in their studios as student projects developed.  In Alleman’s phrasing, the Swiss faculty members developed sequential projects, building on “bits and pieces of Basel.”

Katherine McCoy is the Joyce C. Hall Distinguished Professor of Design at KCAI.

Symbol designed for the Kansas City Zoo, Gerald Haworth, designer (1969).

Symbol designed for the Kansas City Zoo, Gerald Haworth, designer (1969).

KCAI in the 1960s

125 @ August 17, 2010

Andrew Morgan, artist and chairman of the art department at the University of Mississippi, became president of KCAI in the fall of 1960 and within two months presented to the board an ambitious 10-year program.

During the first three years of Morgan’s presidency, the growth of KCAI was substantial. In June 1962 the board authorized Kivett and Myers to develop a Student Living Center. A loan of $820,000 was secured from the Federal Housing and Home Finance Agency. One wing of the twin building would accommodate 80 men, the other 84 women. A joint lounge and cafeteria connected the wings, and the building included a greatly expanded library and the Charlotte Crosby Kemper Gallery, which afforded space for an increased scope of exhibitions and attendance.

Charlotte Crosby Kemper Gallery in the Student Living Center

Charlotte Crosby Kemper Gallery in the Student Living Center

President Morgan also raised admissions and academic standards for the school whereby all entering students were screened, each required to appear in person for a faculty interview and to take a college qualification exam. After 1960, all students who entered on a full-time four-year basis as candidates for the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree were required to complete 136 hours for graduation, with 30 of these hours needed in general studies.

In 1963, Walt Disney was brought back to the place he once called home for an honorary degree and to relive some old and valuable memories. Disney, who stated, “I owe my formative knowledge to the Kansas City Art Institute,” toured Vanderslice Hall, visited the painting studios in Epperson House and spent time in an industrial design classroom talking with students and faculty.

Walt Disney accompanied by President Andrew Morgan and Earle Radford

Walt Disney accompanied by President Andrew Morgan and Earle Radford

In April 1964, the Kansas City Art Institute and School of Design became fully accredited, one of the 470 member schools of the North Central Association, its credits exchangeable with these colleges and universities and all other major educational institutions in the country. The Institute became one of only 27 art schools and colleges in the United States with both professional and college accreditation. The approval was made retroactive to 1960 so that the graduates of the class of 1964 would receive the accredited degree.
President Morgan called this action “the most important milestone in the school’s history” and pointed out that this would likely result in an accelerated program of expansion at the Art Institute. In addition, the college would also now be eligible for both state and federal grants for capital improvements. The Kansas City Star editorialized on June 28, 1964: “It was, in short, one of the most eventful years in the 79-year history of the school. It may someday be looked back on as the year the Art Institute came of age.”

The school also reformed its curriculum, narrowing its majors down to five: ceramics, sculpture, graphic design, industrial design and painting and printmaking. The foundation department reorganized and centralized its faculty under Samia Haleby, then Richard Mattsson, pioneering the first program of its kind for art schools in America. At the same time, the liberal arts department, under George Burris, became an enlarged, strengthened and autonomous entity within the school and was now considered an integral and vital part of the educational experience. In 1966, the name of the college was shortened from “Kansas City Art Institute and School of Design” to “Kansas City Art Institute.”

Liberal arts class discussion on the lawn

Liberal arts class discussion on the lawn

When Andrew Morgan announced in the fall that he was leaving the Institute in the spring of 1970 to go back to teaching, the school was radically changed from the institution he had found just 10 years before. Full-time enrollment had since doubled to 547, with 41 full-time faculty members and an average salary of more than $9,000. Library volumes now totaled more than 17,000, with 19,000 slides in the collection. The annual operating budget was $1,467,572; annual gifts and grants came to $750,000. With the completion of a $1 million building program in 1970, the size of the physical plant had also doubled from what it had been just 10 years before.

Upon leaving Kansas City, Morgan exhibited justifiable pride in the institution he did so much in developing. “Today’s campus is recognized to be one of the finest enjoyed by art students in the United States,” he told a reporter for The Kansas City Star. “Our faculty has grown with the facilities. They are widely known for educational innovation and creative skill. I believe that our students are among the most vigorous and visually talented to be found anywhere.”

Edited from “Chapter IV: The Vision of Andrew W. Morgan, the 1960s” in “The History of the Kansas City Art Institute: A Century of Excellence and Beyond,” by Milton S. Katz.


125 @ August 10, 2010

The 1950s were a time of great change at the Art Institute.   By February of 1950 enrollment reached a total of 1,000 day and evening students, and the school boasted a staff of 26 full time professors, 24 part time instructors and seven graduate students.


The boom was not to last however and with the graduation of students brought by the GI Bill and the Korean War, enrollment dropped significantly and previous financial woes returned.


Despite these problems, there were significant achievements during this period.  The school’s new buildings were featured in six different architectural magazines, and for the first time an Art Institute representative was invited by the Kansas City high schools to participate in the annual College Day program.  In 1951 KCAI qualified for listing in the Directory of Higher Educational Institutions.  In 1958 KCAI received formal accreditation from the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools, and in 1959 the college celebrated its 75th Anniversary.  There were parties, tours of the campus and exhibitions, including Walt Disney’s “Art In Animation.” By the close of the decade it was clear that KCAI had entered the national stage in art education.


Beaux Arts

125 @ August 3, 2010

Beaux Arts has been a fixture of KCAI life. Since early in the college days it has been an opportunity for students, faculty and community members to get together, celebrate art and life and to have a good time.

Beaux Arts was featured in Life Magazine’s “Life goes to a Party” in 1938. Thomas Hart Benton, John Stuert Curry and Grant Wood were the judges of the costume contest. The theme for that year’s Beaux Arts was Arabian Nights – A Night in Baghdad.

These photos represent various Beaux Arts from the mid 1980s.






Memories from Jerry Poppenhouse (’67 design)

125 @ July 22, 2010

The Kansas City Art Institute gave me the chance after four years in the Navy to continue my education.

I did not have enough money to attend full time. I thought I might be able to enroll in some night courses and work during the day to pay for them.

The Kansas City Art Institute reviewed my portfolio and offered me a scholarship and a work job so I could attend full time. That was the start of my career in the visual world.

Any school is only as good as its teachers and I had the best with Rob Roy Kelly, and Lloyd Schnell along with the rest of his great staff.

Those two men opened my eyes to the possibilities and the challenges out there in the visual world of graphics and photography.

We had real assignments, designing the city logo, working with the city police on crime alert, working with teachers from local grade schools, projects that allowed us to interact with real people on how to solve problems. Kelly brought in art directors from other cities to give us assignments and to critique out work. We were exposed to a slice of the real world. Kelly had us work seven days a week and during the holidays no time off, I remember him saying “this is the way it is in the real world, deadlines take no vacation.”

Kelly and his staff were tough, I remember during critiques he and his staff would walk up and down in front of our work, (work that we had slaved over for days and sometime weeks) and when he would come to one he did not approve of, not worthy of any comment, he would rip it off the wall and throw it on the floor. Some of the younger students were in tears. “It’s brutal in the real world,” he would say, and he was right. I did get to visit Kelly once after school in Arizona, we had fun reminiscing the past.

Schnell was the one responsible for teaching me to see and so my career in photography was started. He has been a good friend over the years.

Most students in our group had that love hate relationship with Kelly, we hated the long hours but love the results. His staff expected perfection with no excuses.

Anybody that attended the KCAI under Kelly and his staff during those years came away with the knowledge and the toughness to make it in the real world, the foundation and the encouragement need to be successful.

Other special memory:

In Victor’s Junior Design Team of 10, six of us had flown on the Concorde.

Memories from Kimberly Chiaris (’84 photography)

125 @
Christmas 2009

Christmas 2009

What professor or course most affected your work and why?

Reed Estabrook. He brought fresh contemporary thought to the department. He introduced and brought in guest artists so we could see and interact with art and artists that were relevant at that time. It was life transforming for me.

Which course was the most challenging and why?

George Burris taught a class called Bioethics. We tackled subjects about Abortion and Euthanasia. He didn’t care what side of the fence we were on as long as we argued a point with research, facts and logic. He was truly interested in the learning and thinking process unlike so many classes that emphasized memorization of facts. We recently ran into him at our daughter’s college. He was teaching classes there. He actually remembered us.

Which classmates were your best friends and how have you kept in touch since college?

Scott and Mollie (Walker) Freeman. We live 2 blocks from each other in Loveland, Colorado. We once lived together for 6 months in our small 3 bedroom house with their 5 children and our 3. 12 people getting to know each other very well and we’re still great friends!

Kevin and Sarah (Engler) Berger are good friends. Hugh DeWitte. Chuck and Jill Downen.  All of the above mentioned people lived together with the exception of Sarah and Jill in a house as students on Warwick and 44th.

What was your favorite hang-out on campus?

Under the Ginko tree of course. I also loved the painting building because of the smell and because I loved painting and drawing.

Did you marry your college sweetheart? Who is he or she and how did you meet?

Yes! Micheal Butts. We’ve been married 26 years and have three children. All are persuing art of some sort. Micaela, 20 yrs. old is a fine art photography major, Karissa, 18, is about to study commercial music and industry with vocal and recording arts emphasis and Elijah, 16, is also musical and plays electric guitar in a Screemo band. He may study commercial music or skip that and become famous.

What was your funniest or most fun on-campus experience?

I loved the dances because the bands that played were amazing. Ida McBeth and Sunra were my favorite. Mike and I had our first date at an April Fools Ball with the band BCR Black Crack Review  (off campus). We met as a group of students went to eat pizza during the first week of school and started driving to church together (along with Hugh DeWitte). We were friends for 2 years before we started dating.

What is your most outrageous memory of the Beaux Arts Ball?

Loved the drive in movies. Not outrageous but fun. Dancing and staying up all night was a blast. Looked forward to it every year.

Other special memory:

Hanging with my housemates at our house we called the Hammer Club.

I loved having free access to the Nelson-Atkins Museum.

I loved sitting at Haagen Daz (before coffee houses were the rage) and watching the people down in Westport.

I also loved the Jazz fest on the lawn of the Nelson.

“Thinking Photography: Five Decades at the Kansas City Art Institute” opens this weekend.

125 @

“Thinking Photography: Five Decades at the Kansas City Art Institute, ” an exhibition at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art that features photographic works by twenty-seven notable Kansas City Art Institute alumni, will be on view July 24, 2010 – January 2, 2011.  The exhibit acknowledges the rich, diverse history of the KCAI photography program from the 1960s to the present day.  Work from the following artists will be included:

Thomas Barrow (’63 photography)
Edward A. Gallucci (’68 photography)
Joe Deal (’70 photography)
James Hajicek (’70 photography) and Carol Panaro
E.G. Schempf (’72 photography)
Lawrence McFarland (’73 photography)
Ellen Carey (’75 photography)
Karen Glaser (’76 photography)
Chuck Avery (’77 photography)
Frank Hamilton (’77 photography)
Mark Osterman (’77 photography)
Russell Phillips (’77 photography)
Don McKenna (’78 photography)
Jeff Burke (’79 photography)
Jamie Tuttle (’86 photography)
Robert and Shana Parke Harrison (Robert ’90 photo/video)
Dana Fritz (’92 photography)
Stuart Allen (’94 photography)
Nicole Cawlfield (’97 photography)
Raissa Venables (’99 photography)
Allyson Lubow (’02 photography)
Ross Sawyers (’02 photography)
Jaimie Warren (’02 printmaking)
Cortney Andrews (’05 photography)
Jeff Eaton (’07 photography)
Colby Sempek (’07 photography)
Robert Heishman (’08 photography)

The show is dedicated to Joe Deal (’70 photography), who died in June.

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