Keith Jacobshagen

For many years landscape artist Keith Jacobshagen has derived inspiration from the ever-changing skies and fields of southern Nebraska. His paintings capture light falling across wide-open spaces, but they also reflect aspects of his personal life — like memories of flying in a small airplane with his father. An exhibition of more than 30 of Jacobshagen’s paintings (his first large-scale public exhibition in the Kansas City area) will be on display at the JCCC Gallery of Art. Jacobshagen will present a lecture on his work at the opening reception Sunday, February 27, at 3:30 p.m.

Over the last 15 years, Jacobshagen has established a national reputation. His studies of the plains are deeply felt and evocative assessments of familiar views. Writing on Jacobshagen’s work in 1988, Daphne Deeds, curator of the Sheldon Memorial Museum, Lincoln, Nebraska, stated, “while his paintings document the particular conditions of weather, light, topography, and their effect on the land, they also transcend the specific to function as metaphors for the human condition: a solitary sky as mystery touching the known earth.”

“I wouldn’t be interested in (landscapes) if they were only documenting the landscape,” Jacobshagen said in an interview with curator Melissa Rountree during the organization of this exhibition. “The autobiography of my life goes into the painting, but it’s not necessarily there for people to read as they would read a book.”

Beginning in the late 1970s, Jacobshagen started to execute more of his work in the studio, as opposed to his customary practice of working strictly on location. He would begin a landscape outdoors and then finish it in his studio. This change in his approach to painting had a profound effect on his work. “I discovered that when I was in the studio, I had greater freedom to imagine, to change color and to alter things that I would not have done if I had been looking at them directly,” he stated. Jacobshagen’s paintings began to resemble less what he saw than what he envisioned.  Although his approach and style have evolved over the years, Jacobshagen has always tried to imbue his work with a spiritual quality. “That’s a kind of romantic wish on my part...I hope viewers will have some kind of emotional experience with the painting that will go beyond words and beyond some kind of intellectual explanation.”

Keith Jacobshagen was born in Wichita in 1941 and trained as an illustrator and graphic designer at the Kansas City Art Institute.  He worked at Hallmark Cards, Kansas City, Missouri, and then received his MFA in 1966 from the University of Kansas, Lawrence. Since 1968 he has been an art department faculty member at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.

Jacobshagen’s work is included in numerous public and private collections throughout the United States, including the Art Institute of Chicago; the Oakland Art Museum; the Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha, Nebraska; and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; as well as locally at the Nelson-Atkins Museum, the Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas, the Kansas City Art Institute, the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art and JCCC. His work has been featured in exhibitions at the Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa, Oklahoma; the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, New York; the Indianapolis Center for Contemporary Art, Indiana; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, California; and the Kunsthalle, Nuremberg, Germany.

The gallery guide includes an interview between Keith Jacobshagen and Melissa Rountree which took place in January 1993. Rountree is associate curator, Hallmark Fine Arts Collection.

We are most grateful to Keith Jacobshagen for his enthusiastic assistance with this exhibition. John Driscoll of Babcock Galleries, New York; Dorry Gates of Dorry Gates Gallery, Kansas City, Missouri; and Thomas Hart of the Roger Ramsay Gallery, Chicago, Illinois, were crucial to the presentation of this show, as were the numerous private collectors and museums who so generously loaned works. To them, we are deeply indebted.

The artist wishes to dedicate this exhibition to Marguerite and Norman Jacobshagen for their unwavering support and understanding.