NEWTON—Virgil Penner’s latest show at the Carriage Factory Art Gallery, is named “Kansas Regionalism” and features new works that capture rural Kansas. Due to concerns about the Covid-19 outbreak, no opening reception is planned. A video of Penner’s paintings and an art catalog can be found below
When looking at Penner’s art, there’s something that seems familiar. Perhaps it’s the whimsical style of his work with buildings that lean in a dramatic fashion and clouds that curl like tentacles across the sky in the style of Thomas Hart Benton, who Penner cites as an influence. Maybe it’s a cedar that reminds you of Birger Sandzen or a swirling sky that could be in a Picasso painting. Or it could be the subject matter itself, images of iconic elements of Kansas – sunflowers, tornados, grain silos, and farm fields – that drum up a sense of nostalgia for the Sunflower State.
Penner grew up on a farm and his love of rural elements shines through in his work. He first began drawing in elementary school and branched out in high school to improve his artistic painting and his mechanical drawing. He is also well-known for his architectural ink drawings. Penner, who went to college at Bethel College, focused on other areas after completing his education in 1965, including teaching and coaching in Wichita Schools and at Bethel College. He retired in 2009 from being chief executive officer of the Newton Area Chamber of Commerce. Penner took the painting hobby up again in 2008 and has been prolific in his work. Many of his paintings can be spotted in buildings along Main Street in Newton and he is a Gallery Artist at Carriage Factory Art Gallery.
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