Worthy Rivals Celebrated at Bone Creek

You are being encouraged to see an exciting new exhibition at the Bone Creek Museum of Agrarian Art from now through September.

This exhibition puts the rivalry between famous Nebraska artists Dale Nichols of David City, and Terence Duren of Shelby in the spotlight. "This whole exhibition is based upon a Time Magazine article from 1945 titled "War in the Corn," guest curator Cole Sartore said.

In the mid-20th Century both Nichols and Duren were doing one-man shows in their hometowns, about 20 minutes apart on the same day in the summer of 1945. "There was quite a bit of publicity about it, and Time Magazine had picked up on an argument the two had in the Omaha World-Herald that previous spring where they got them saying disparaging things about each other," Sartore said. "Duren thought that Nichols' art was too glossy, that he was too romantic and didn't capture a true vision of Nebraska. Nichols was critical of Duren, saying that he was too satirical and made fun of his Nebraska neighbors."

The folks at the Bone Creek Museum of Agrarian art are focusing on this rivalry as they celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the museum this year. The mission of Bone Creek is to connect people to the land through art, and both Nichols and Duren were interested in the land, given their rural roots. In fact, the guest curator of this exhibition says even though they may have been portrayed as rivals in Time Magazine, both men were strong supporters or realist artwork in America.

"The main arrangement for the exhibition is these comparisons that have been made that Duren and Nichols subject matter overlaps," Sartore said. "Whether it's red barns, haying scenes, images of their time in Mexico or traveling abroad, a lot of the images are similar. One comparison in particular is a painting we have from the Kemper Museum entitled "Earth to Rest" in which Dale Nichols has his traditional red barn yard scene, but the entire farm is being cradled by the landscape which is a silhouette of a woman holding the farm. Similarly, Duren did a painting of harvest hands washing up after a day in the fields. We've taken those two paintings and put them side by side to be able to see how they interpreted human form in the landscape," Sartore said.

The exhibition is fascinating in a number of ways. Not only do visitors get a chance to see the work of Duren and Nichols when they were adults, but some of the work they did as kids is on display, including a painting that Nichols did when he was 13, and a sketch of a woman that Duren did when he was bedridden with polio as a child. Perhaps the main message from this new exhibition at Bone Creek is that both men are great artists with Nebraska ties. "Much has been made about Grant Wood. Grant Wood is the painter of American Gothic, the couple with the pitchfork," Bone Creek Museum curator Amanda Mobley Guenther said. "These two guys, Nichols and Duren, those are Nebraska's guys that are on that level."

Again, your chance to see this high caliber of art is now through September at the Bone Creek Museum of Agrarian Art. For more information on special events surrounding the exhibition, go to bonecreek.org.