The art of John Philip Falter

Published: Jul. 31, 2019 at 10:16 AM CDT
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In the lobby of the former Richardson County Bank, you can experience the art of John Philip Falter. The famous artist made it big, but never forgot his Falls City roots.

We recently talked with Dobey Haws about the museum. "John Falter's grandparents came from Germany and England, and they ended up in Plattsmouth. Then, they moved to Falls City and opened up a clothing store," Haws said. "John graduated from Falls City High School in 1928, and he got a scholarship to the Kansas City Art Institute. Then he moved to the East Coast, where he met many famous illustrators, including Norman Rockwell. He stayed there through his career, but he would come back here to visit often."

Falter's first big break came in the early 1930's when he did "pulp" magazine covers. But his dream was to be on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post, and he achieved that dream. "That break came in 1943. He did his first of 129 Post covers," Haws said. Some of those covers are on display at the museum. Haws said that Falter also joined the Navy in 1943 and did more than 300 posters for the Navy during the war.

"John was rather unique, in that he changed how the covers of the Post looked," Haws said. Falter is known for presenting some of his illustrations from a high point of view. You can see an example of that style, when you look at Falter's illustration of downtown Falls City at Christmas. The picture appears to be looking down from above. "Norman Rockwell really liked that, and it changed how he painted," Haws said.

There is plenty to see when you visit the John Philip Falter Museum. You will be able to view many of his Saturday Evening Post covers, you will see some of his pulp magazine covers, and you can see a replica of his Philadelphia studio. There are also some original World War II paintings that Falter produced.

The museum is on the Nebraska Tourism Passport Program this year, and is well worth a stop. A 30-minute video produced by NET can be viewed during a visit to the museum.