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Prairie Print Makers

Autumn by Herschel Logan The mention of Kansas once conjured the Old West with snow-capped mountains and cactus-filled desert. A group of Kansas artists, led by Coy Avon (C. A.) Seward, formed a bond December 28, 1930, in the Lindsborg studio of artist Birger Sandzén to promote their art. These Prairie Print Makers planned to offer affordable artwork that would appeal to collectors. A few of these artists created a 20th century view of the Kansas landscape.

The Print Makers created etchings, silkscreens, linoleum cuts, block prints, and lithographs. Many of the members were professional artists who worked in different aspects of printing or art. Others were novices who benefited from the masters’ knowledge in the group.

Seward had a passion for the entire printmaking process and he mentored the artists in technique and developing unique styles. Each of the artists contributed skills and knowledge to the group. The members began to build a reputation of quality that became known around the world.

Between 1931 and 1965 the group produced 34 gift prints. The pieces were selected by a committee that paid the artists $150 to produce the works, which were distributed in November in a biographical brochure.

Swedish-born Sandzén, a professor at Bethany College and a charter member of the Print Makers, was primarily a painter. Sandzén also created a number of lithographs, block prints, and drypoints.

Herschel Logan was one of the young members. Born in Magnolia, Missouri, in 1901, Logan’s family moved to Winfield when he was an infant. There he developed an appreciation for the prairie, which he enjoyed sketching as a boy. His first drawings were cartoons of the family barn. Logan’s initial formal training was a mail order course. In 1920 he left the small farming community of his youth and enrolled for a year’s training at the Chicago Academy of Art. After art school Logan returned to Kansas and created his art in Wichita and Salina.

Logan understood the relationship between man and the land. He chose a historic artistic medium, the woodcut, in which to depict his art. He became quite skilled in this medium, creating a sensitive balance between light and dark.

Working from photographs or sketches he made on location, Logan created the preliminary design on a woodblock. He studied the design for several days before continuing with his work. If he was creating portraits, Logan might change materials from wood to rubber or linoleum. On the completed prints he added his monogram—an “L” inside a square. His prints are signed in pencil below the image on the right; he added a title on the left.

Logan produced 140 prints between 1921 and 1938; the majority of them were Kansas subjects, which earned his nickname, “The Prairie Woodcutter,” and international acclaim. Logan retired and moved to Santa Ana, California, where he died in 1987.

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Entry: Prairie Print Makers

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: November 2011

Date Modified: December 2011

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.