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Halls of CMU buildings garner work of renowned alumnus

The Kephart Campus Collection and art walk tour unveiled

The humble modesty of Jac Kephart meant little publicity occurred during the years when CMU received his artwork. Public recognition for his artistry and philanthropy was never something Kephart desired. Following his passing, CMU received additional works and will formally memorialize a collection of the late artists’ paintings while celebrating the status of Kephart as a revered CMU alumnus and renowned professional artist. On Wednesday, December 4, 2019 at 5pm CMU will unveil the CMU Kephart Campus Collection.

Sometimes special relationships form between artists and universities. This connection is in part a reflection of the fact that universities are where the value of art is contemplated and celebrated. CMU and Kephart had one such special relationship.The unveiling of his campus collection is both a memorial to, and celebration of, this connection between artist and institution.

CMU President Tim Foster will be on hand to unveil the collection and will acknowledge the contributions Kephart made to CMU that extend beyond the physical paintings.

“Monetary contributions are easily measured by the financial ledger, but the value of rare art is measured not in terms of what the paintings are worth in dollars, but is measured by its potential to create culture and community at CMU,” said Foster. “In the case of the CMU Kephart Campus Collection, I’d say that non-monetary value is immeasurable.”

Art is an increasingly important part of public spaces in Colorado. The Centennial State requires a portion of publicly constructed buildings include artwork. In addition to art donated by Jac and Pat Kephart, CMU has acquired Kephart’s art throughout the years in order to support local art while also meeting state standards.

The Kephart Campus Collection: What does art mean to university campuses?img_0943.jpg

Universities generally represent the collective knowledge gathered from the past. Academia is a repository of wisdom from history. This information is imparted on students today for ongoing, perpetual refinement. From the humanities to healthcare disciplines, each program is an amalgamation of centuries of learnedness and artistic expression. Universities are places that reflect what people have observed, felt, created and believed in going back to the days of Aristotle. CMU is a part of this ever growing art and academic knowledge bank.

CMU campus buildings are named for those who contributed to teaching in the past. Classrooms are sometimes dedicated to those who provided donations or supported student scholarships. Maverick athletic facilities are named for those who helped fund their construction. Some of the campus art at CMU represents the creative capacity of CMU’s alumni artists. Kephart is certainly one of these artists.

“The paintings of Jac Kephart placed throughout campus gives new meaning to his work,” said CMU Professor of Art and Department Head Suzie Garner. “His canvas renderings of the world are part of the artistic academic archives — artistic expressions that are a small part of the larger art of western civilization."

Foster will kick off the exhibition event and believes non-monetary donations to CMU are often among the most interesting, personal and meaningful gifts received by CMU.

“The Kephart Campus Collection has accumulated through the years. In total the exhibition is a wonderful example of the kind of non-monetary contributions that are turning campus into a living art gallery,” said Foster. “The CMU Kephart Campus Collection Tour that will be a permanent experiential opportunity for students and the community to see his art beginning December 4 and on a permanent basis moving forward.”

The art collection will be mapped, and a self-guided tour of the collection will be a permanent exhibition offered by CMU. Dozens of paintings rendered by Kephart are displayed throughout campus in seven different buildings. Self-guided tour maps will be available in the CMU Downtown Grand Junction Art Gallery 437CO as well as on the gallery’s website.

Suzie Garner also explained the legacy of Kephart is about more than the art itself and is also about how he structured his life.

“Kephart embodies what the CMU Department of fine Art and Design strives to teach today — how to make a living as an artist through art-entrepreneurialism,” said Garner. “Jac showed students that you can own and run a business while also sustaining passion for your artistic endeavors. Students need to know that life is not a zero sum game, and that art and a career can work together in unison for a meaningful life and career.”

During his own career, Kephart owned a floral business that allowed him to monetize his skills as a painter during the course of his life while operating a floral business that was also in-and-of itself an artistic endeavor. Kephart didn’t paint florals, but he sold floral arrangements, which in turn allowed him to paint as a profession –a life balance that students today can aspire to.

For more information about the CMU Kephart Campus Collection contact the CMU Foundation and learn about how to support students, art and culture at CMU. To experience the tour visit the collection website for a tour map.


Written by David Ludlam