Eighty years ago, in southern Missouri, world-class artists like Thomas Hart Benton, Joe Jones and Oscar Thalinger set up their easels and began to paint. They taught at the Summer School of Art, an offshoot of the Ste. Genevieve Art Colony, which was formed by two women serving on the St. Louis Artists’ Guild board of governors. The women, who normally summered on the coast to paint, started the colony when the Great Depression hindered their ability to travel.
This year, to celebrate the school, as well as Missouri’s rich history and landscape, the Sainte Genevieve Art Guild is hosting the Resurgence of the 1934 Ste. Genevieve Summer School of Art, with three weekends of art-centered events. Karen Glines, past president of the St. Louis Artists Guild and the artistic director of this year’s Summer School of Art, says that guests will have the chance to attend an art exhibit, book-signings and forums led by art educators and experts, as well as take classes from prominent Missouri artists. Working with other committee members Carolyn Bach, Mary Peura and Jean Rissover, Glines says her hope is that the events will mirror what life was like at the original Summer School, right down to the models—an 88-year-old woman, who was 8 when she modeled at the first Summer School—will model for one of the classes. A student of Matthew Ziegler, a painter who taught at the original Summer School, also will attend.
Bryan Haynes, a New Regionalism painter, will teach a class on how to paint the figure in landscape. Students can be at any experience level, he says, and the class will start with the basics: mixing acrylic paint. Students also will learn about the craftsmanship the original Summer School artists had, something he says often is missing in modern art. In addition to working with students, Haynes says he’s excited to learn more about the historic Ste. Genevieve arts culture. “I’m hoping that some of the residue from the 1930s and ‘40s might still be there in the town—in the WPA murals or even the memories of some of the people who are there,” he says. “It’s important to resurrect this part of Missouri’s history. It’s good for our state to remember the Arts Colony, which made a real statement at the time.”
The Resurgence of the 1934 Ste. Genevieve Summer School of Art will take place June 13-15, 20-22 and 27-29. Many events are free and open to the public. For more information, visit artstegen.org