Building a Permanent Collection · Johnson County Community College

For the first time since it began acquiring contemporary American art 10 years ago, JCCC has organized a major exhibition showcasing works from the collection. The exhibition was made possible by the completion last year of the Gallery of Art in the college’s Carlsen Center. Building a Permanent Collection features paintings, photographs, prints, drawings and sculpture by dozens of regionally and nationally known artists. More than 50 pieces were selected from the college’s collection of over 100 works, primarily the result of college purchases through the art acquisition fund, but increasingly supplemented by private and corporate donations.

Included in the exhibition are three large-scale etchings by Robert Rauschenberg titled the Bellini Series. Rauschenberg, who began his training at the Kansas City Art Institute, is considered one of the most important artists of the late 20th century. His innovative work re-invigorated printmaking in the 1960s. Emerging on the New York art scene in the mid-1950s, his innovative and eclectic style marked the transition from abstract expressionism of the 1940s and 1950s to the pop art movement of the 1960s. The "Bellini" series interweaves images from Giovanni Bellini's "Five Allegories" (late 15th century) with images of contemporary popular culture.

Among the works featured are a large-scale ceramic vessel by Uruguayan artist Lidya Buzio depicting New York rooftops which was commissioned by the college; a geometric ceramic piece by Omaha-based Jun Kaneko; photographs by notable artists Harry Callahan, Aaron Siskind, Joel Meyerowitz, John Pfahl, and Jerry Uelsmann; and a major painting by Missouri artist Gary Bowling. Local artists with works in the exhibition include KCAI’s esteemed Dale Eldred and ceramists Kenneth Ferguson and George Timock, painters Jane Pronko, Ron Slowinski, Dave Melby and Roger Shimomura from the University of Kansas.

For many students, the works of art they encounter on college campuses are their first exposure to the richness and diversity of artistic expression. That’s why it is very important for colleges to build permanent collections. The acquisition program, implemented in 1980, is headed by the College Art Acquisition Committee composed of local curators and private collectors. Works purchased are installed in a variety of locations throughout the campus. “One of the goals of the acquisition committee is to ensure that wherever students are on campus they will see original works of art and that those works will contribute to their education,” said Charles J. Carlsen, president of the college.

The gently rolling hills of the campus are ideally suited to the installation of site-specific and large-scale sculpture; the first piece purchased was Flight of Imagination, an 18-foot-high stainless steel kinetic sculpture by Grant Kenner that is located on the west end of the campus. Subsequently, Eldred was commissioned to execute a huge sculpture, Galileo’s Garden, for the campus courtyard. More recent purchases have focused on ceramics, paintings, photographs, prints and drawings by important regional and national artists.

The Art Acquisition Committee includes Molly Baumgardner, JCCC trustee; Keith Davis, chief curator, Hallmark Cards Inc.; Bruce Hartman (chair) director, JCCC Gallery of Art; Margery Lichtor, private collector; Bill Lozano, JCCC instructor, art history; Zigmunds Priede, JCCC instructor, painting and drawing; Tom Tarnowski, JCCC instructor, photography; and George Thompson, JCCC program director, visual arts program.


Richard Bosman was born in 1944 in Madras, India, and he was raised in Egypt and Australia. Bosman studied at Skowhegan School of Painting and Drawing, Maine, the New York Studio School, New York, and the Byam Shaw School of Painting and Drawing, London, England. He teaches drawing and printmaking at Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York.

John Buck was born in 1946 in Ames, Iowa. A sculptor and printmaker, Buck received a BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute, and an MFA from the University of California, Davis. He lives and works in Bozeman, Montana.

Chairman of the KCAI sculpture department for 33 years, Dale Eldred was born in 1933 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He studied architecture and engineering at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Originally sited in the Fountain Courtyard, Galileo’s Garden was re-sited in conjunction with the new Galileo's Pavilion built in 2012.

Bill Jensen was born in 1945 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Jensen received his BFA in 1968 and his MFA in 1970 from the University of Minnesota, and he currently lives and works in New York.

Sherry Leedy is based in Kansas City, and she has been running the Sherry Leedy Contemporary Art Gallery in the Crossroads since 1985. She earned a BFA from the KCAI and an MFA from the University of Kansas.

Kansas City artist Marilyn Mahoney graduated with a BFA in 1971 from Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, and in 1975 she earned an MFA from the University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.

Michael Mazur was born in 1935 in New York, New York. Mazur received a BA from Amherst College, MA, and a BFA and MFA from Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut. 

Hugh Merrill was born in 1949. Merrill received an MFA from Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, and a BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore.  He is a tenured professor of printmaking and painting at the KCAI.

Robert Rauschenberg was born in 1925 in Port Arthur, Texas, and studied at the KCAI, Black Mountain College in North Carolina, and the Art Students’ League in New York.

Larry Rivers was born in 1923 in the Bronx, New York. He studied with Hans Hofmann in the late 1940s, was an integral member of the Chelsea Hotel scene, and was a frequent guest at Andy Warhol’s Factory.

Jim Sajovic was born in 1943, Chicago, Illinois, and now based in Kansas City, Sajovic received his BFA in painting from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, and his MFA from the University of Florida, Gainesville.

Roger Shimomura was born in 1939 in Seattle's Central District. He received his BA degree from the University of Washington in 1961 and his MFA degree from Syracuse University. Shimomura currently lives and works in Lawrence, Kansas. He taught at the University of Kansas beginning in 1969, and he was designated a University Distinguished Professor in 1994, the first so honored in the history of the School of Fine Arts.

James Surls was born in 1943 in Terrell, Texas. He received his BFA in 1966 from Sam Houston State College in Huntsville, Texas, and his MFA in 1969 from Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Surls currently lives and works in Carbondale, Colorado.


Philomene Bennet was born in 1935 in Lincoln, Nebraska, and graduated with a BFA in 1956 from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. She and her husband Lou Marak co-founded the Kansas City Artist Coalition in 1976, and she continues to teach studio programs and organize artists-in-residence in the area.

Gary Bowling was born in 1948 in Lamar, Missouri. Bowling received an art education degree in 1970 from Missouri Southern State College, Joplin. He received an MFA in painting and drawing from the University of Arkansas in 1974. He currently lives in his hometown of Lamar, Missouri, near the Ozark Mountains.

David Melby was born in 1942 in Wichita, Kansas. He attended the KCAI, earned an MFA from Wichita State University and an MFA from the University of Nebraska. He also studied at the Instituto Allende in San Miguel, Mexico. Melby taught at Iowa State University, the KCAI, Rockhurst College, and Saint Mary's College in Leavenworth, Kansas.

Kansas City artist Jane Pronko was born in 1935 in East St. Louis, Illinois. Pronko graduated with a BS from the University of Kansas, Lawrence. 

Ron Slowinski was born in 1931 in Chicago, and he earned a Certificate of Art in painting from the School of Art Institute of Chicago in 1954. He currently lives and works in Kansas City and Taos, New Mexico; Slowinski is a former professor of painting at the KCAI.


Lidya Buzio was born in 1948 in Montevideo, Uruguay, and grew up in a family of artisans and jewelers.  A student of drawing and painting in her native country, she moved to New York City in 1972 to study ceramics and fresco painting. 

Ken Ferguson was born in 1928 in Elwood, Indiana, and studied at the American Academy of Art, Chicago. He earned a BFA in 1952 from the Carnegie Institute of Technology, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and an MFA in 1954 from Alfred University, New York. Ferguson became head of the KCAI ceramics department in 1964.

Chris Gustin was born in 1952 in Chicago, Illinois. He received his BFA in 1975 from the KCAI and his MA in 1977 from the prestigious New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred, New York. 

Now based in Omaha, Nebraska, Jun Kaneko was born in Nagoya, Japan, in 1942. He studied in the 1960s at the Chouinard Art Institute, Los Angeles, and at the University of California, Berkeley, and received an MFA from the Claremont Graduate School, Claremont, California, in 1970.

Ron Meyers was born in 1934 in Buffalo, New York. He received an MFA in ceramics from the School for American Craftsmen at Rochester Institute of Technology in 1967, and both his BS (1956) and MS (1961) in Art Education from State University of New York College at Buffalo.

Judith Salomon was born in 1952. She studied at the Penland School of Crafts, Penland, NC, and the School for American Craftsmen, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York, where she received her BFA. She earned an MFA from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University. Salomon was named associate professor at the Cleveland Institute of Art, where she currently is head of the ceramics department.

Chris Staley was born in 1956 in Boston, MA. In 1977 he completed a BFA from Wittenberg University, then studied at the KCAI, and in 1980 he earned an MFA from Alfred University. Staley taught at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Wichita State University, and presently at Pennsylvania State University where he is Professor of Art and Professor-in-Charge of the Ceramics Area in the School of Visual Arts.

George Timock was born in 1945. He graduated with a BFA and MFA, both from Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Timock lives and works in Kansas City, where he has been a professor at the KCAI since 1973.


Jane Lackey was born in 1948 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Lackey received her BFA in 1974 from California College of Arts and Crafts, Oakland, and her MFA in 1979 from Cranbrook Academy.  Before she became Head of Fiber at Cranbrook, she was a fiber professor and department chair at the KCAI. She is now based in Santa Fe, New Mexico.


Harry Callahan was born in 1912 in Detroit, Michigan, and studied at Michigan State University before taking a job at the Chrysler Motor Parts Corporation. Callahan taught photography at the Institute of Design in Chicago from 1946 until 1961, when he moved to Providence, Rhode Island, to teach at RISD.

Linda Connor was born in 1944 in New York. She studied with Harry Callahan at RISD, and with Aaron Siskind at the Institute of Design, Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, where she earned an MS in 1969. Linda Connor is associate professor in the photography department at the San Francisco Art Institute.

Roy DeCarava was born in New York City in 1919 and studied painting and printmaking at Cooper Union, Harlem Art Center, and the George Washington Carver School.

Joel Meyerowitz was born in 1938 in New York. He graduated from Ohio State University in 1959 with a BFA and also studied at Hunter College and the City University of New York.

Wright Morris was born in 1910 in Central City, Nebraska. He was for many years a professor of English at San Francisco State College (now San Francisco State University) and lived in Mill Valley, California. He died in 1998.

John Pfahl was born in 1939 in New York and received a BFA from Syracuse University's School of Art and his MA from Syracuse University's School of Communications. He is currently professor of photography at the University at Buffalo, the State University of New York.

Aaron Siskind was born in 1903 in New York City and studied at the City College from 1915 to 1926, earning a BSS in Literature. He was an English instructor in the New York City public school system, and he was active in the New York Workers' Film and Photo League, later reorganized as the New York Photo-League, where he established the Feature Group, a documentary production unit, as part of the Photo League School. He taught photography at Trenton Junior College, New Jersey. Siskind died in 1991.

Jerry Uelsmann was born in 1934 in Detroit, Michigan, and graduated with a BFA in photography from the Rochester Institute of Technology. He began teaching at the University of Florida in 1960, and has been a graduate research professor of art there since 1974.