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March Exhibit Features Whimsical Art

03 March 2014

The Delmar Riney Art Gallery at Pratt Community College is proud to feature the works of Virgil Penner during the month of March. In one of the largest exhibits in the gallery’s recent history, Penner displays a brilliant collection primarily composed of acrylic paintings.

Many of the paintings represent farmhouses and pastoral scenes with a whimsical twist. Penner explains a philosophy that a former art teacher passed along to him: If you’re going to paint a picture exactly like a picture, just take a picture.

“A real artist doesn’t always paint between the lines – in fact, your outlines don’t have to be like reality at all,” he says.

Penner likes to paint sequences of the same scene; Visitors to the gallery will find multiple works featuring the same yellow farmhouse represented with different colors, approaches, artistic techniques and surrounding scenery.

Some of Penner’s works are not acrylics but ink drawings. They represent landscapes and agricultural equipment from a rural lifestyle that is quickly becoming obsolete.

“In 1975 I spent a few weeks in a hospital looking out the window at the scenery,” Penner said. “That was when all the small farmers were going out of business, really marking the decay of the American farm. During that time I drew a special piece that depicts a fence post in the shape of a hand, reaching out of the ground and up to the sky to give up its cane.”

In this way, Penner explains, his ink drawings and acrylic paintings are the same: they represent a fleeting or fictional reality.

Penner is a native of Newton, Kan. who taught at Wichita high schools and Bethel College and served for many years with the leadership of the Newton Chamber of Commerce. Since his retirement, he continues to paint and do ink drawings for both private and industrial clientele.

Penner’s exhibit in the Delmar Riney Gallery can be viewed Monday through Friday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m, or by appointment. For more information or to be considered as a "Featured Artist of the Month,” contact the Vice President of Students and Enrollment Management at 620-672-3559.