Prairie Print Makers

Prairie Print Makers

A flock of blackbirds in flight over a landscape of cattails

C. A. Seward, Blackbirds, 1930. Lithograph, 12 x 16 inches. Wichita Art Museum, Museum Purchase, Mosby Lincoln Foundation

The Wichita Art Museum is home to the premier collection of works by the Prairie Print Makers, a Wichita-based art collective active through much of the 20th century. On December 28, 1930, the 10 charter members of the Prairie Print Makers held their first meeting. Eight of these artists—Charles Capps, Leo Courtney, Lloyd Foltz, Arthur Hall, Norma Hall, Clarence Hotvedt, Herschel Logan, and Edmund Kopietz—were Wichita friends and associates of C. A. Seward, the organizer of the first meeting and driving force behind the group’s formation. Another Seward friend and associate, Birger Sandzen, hosted this first meeting at his studio in Lindsborg. Seward spelled out the group’s primary goal in a letter of invitation to a younger Wichita artist, William Dickerson, who became the first artist to receive an invitation to join the Prairie Print Makers. “The object of this group is to further the interest of both artists and laymen in printmaking and collecting,” Seward wrote. Within a few years of its founding, and at the height of the Great Depression, the group boasted 47 active (artist) members and over 100 associate (non-artist) members.

To accomplish the goal of furthering interest in printmaking and print collecting, the Prairie Print Makers organized and circulated exhibitions of members’ work. They also commissioned an annual gift print—a print created by an artist member and then distributed to both artist and non-artist members of the group. In all, 34 gift prints were issued annually from 1931 until 1965. The Prairie Print Makers’ support and enthusiasm for all printmaking mediums distinguished them from other print societies of the era, which typically focused solely on etching. The gifts prints reflect their advocacy for all printmaking mediums—gift prints included seven etchings, four drypoints, four aquatints, one linocut, one color block print, one colored etching, three wood engravings, and seven lithographs.

From the group’s inception, the home of the Prairie Print Makers was Wichita, Kansas. This relatively small, yet highly entrepreneurial city in the center of the Midwest mirrors the unique qualities that the 10 founding members brought to their group. Through the support of the Mosby Lincoln Foundation, donors to the C. A. Seward Memorial Collection, and generous community members, the Wichita Art Museum continues to expand its collection of work by American printmakers. The museum’s print collection reflects and celebrates the importance of the Prairie Print Makers and Wichita’s role in the history of American printmaking.

Prairie Print Maker Catalogues

Collection of five catelogues of Praire Printmaker exhibitions



Exhibition catalogues are available for purchase in the Museum Store.

Charles M. Capps: 1898-1981 Etchings & Aquatints, Lithographs and Block Prints
By Barbara Thompson
$25      163 pages
Charles “Chili” Capps was broadly recognized as a leading print maker, lauded in particular for his extraordinary prowess with aquatints. His subjects reflect the eye for beauty in the everyday and significant sense of place expressed during the American scene movement.

Frances H. Gearhart – Color Block Prints in Wichita, 1922-1937
By Roger Genser
$25     92 pages
Frances H. Gearhart: Color Block Prints in Wichita surveys the work of one of the leading color woodcut artists of the early 20th century. Renowned for her dramatic landscapes of the California mountains, deserts, and shoreline, Gearhart’s use of saturated color and bold compositions made her a key figure in the color block print revival. A Californian, Gearhart was nonetheless a well-known member of the early Wichita art scene and member of the Prairie Print Makers.

Lloyd C. Foltz 1897-1990 Etching & Aquatints, Lithographs and Block Prints
By Barbara Thompson
$25     162 pages
Lloyd C. Foltz, a charter member of the Prairie Print Makers, was a virtuoso in many print media. Foltz depicted scenes from the American heartland and brought a special lyricism to landcapes and subjects he knew well in Kansas and the surrounding region.

Over There – Over Here: American Print Makers Go to War, 1914-1918
By Barbara Thompson
$24   202 pages
Over There – Over Here: American Print Makers Go to War, 1914-1918 explores the little-studied phenomenon of American print makers and their artistic responses to the watershed cataclysm. Print makers in the United States helped to shape the public’s grasp of the war, and this volume sheds light on this underappreciated chapter in the history of World War I and American Art.

William J. Dickerson: 1904-1972 Lithographs, Block Prints & Etchings
By Barbara Thompson
$25     120 pages
William Dickerson led the school of the Wichita Art Association (now Mark Arts) from 1933 to 1971. He tended the development of so many talents in Wichita while he also deepened his own gifts as an artist. His tutelage by and close relationship to renowned print maker Bolton Brown in Chicago gave Dickerson a grounding greatly valued by other strong print makers in Kansas. Dickerson was the first artist member elected to the Wichita-based Prairie Print Makers, following the 10 founders.