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Hidden Faces:
Selection from the Roy Burgess Collection 

Roy Burgess 

Second Floor Gallery

January 8 - March 5, 2022

Exhibit Statement:

This exhibit is a Director's selection of paintings by Iowa artist Roy Burges from the collection archives on long-term loan to the Blanden from the artist.
In 2017 prior to the artist's permanent move to the Island of Maui, Roy established a long-term loan agreement with the Blanden to house an extensive collection of his paintings, drawings, and archives, making the museum the home to a great Iowa master. 

Hidden Faces is a selection of images that Roy Burges created while living in Kansas City of homeless men he befriended.  The face is an entrance into a person's soul. The emotions of the person's life become imprinted on the surface of a face. People carry meaning, identity, beauty, and character on their faces. The face becomes a place to hang all our memories of a person, gives us first impressions, and helps identify friends from foe. The power and interest of faces have captivated artists throughout history.
Roy has a talent for capturing people, which is enhanced by his kindness, each individual he captured he knew personally. He was interested in their story.  This exhibit showcases Roy's self-taught abilities and a window into humanity often overlooked and unseen. 

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Letha Kelsey 


As an artist, I investigate how sensory phenomena and immediate surroundings translate into visual language. Paintings and drawings from the last decade have developed from two events: an experience of being away and the experience of returning home.

Supported by a 2010 University of Wisconsin Summer Research Grant, I hiked across   Wisconsin—from Potawatomie State Park to Lodi—via the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. The paintings and drawings from this series convey the collective sensory experience of slowly moving through the landscape over the course of 37 days. This body of work is the On Foot series.

Following the births of my sons in 2013 and 2014, I returned focus to immediate surroundings, making paintings and drawings that investigate play, original impulse, and repetitions of the domestic realm. Daily acts, exchanges, and everyday fragments inform these new works. The paintings and collages here represent a return to what is most simply, close by. This body of work is the Homing series.

Selected works from the On Foot and Homing series are included in this exhibition. It is my hope that viewing them together may elicit fresh contemplation of the everyday, both far and near.



Letha Kelsey’s research involves close examination of the everyday—observations of  immediate surroundings, rooted in the elements, materials and actions of our daily lives. Kelsey grew up on a small family farm in Iowa, an experience that resonates in her observations of the Midwestern landscape and its sensory phenomena—its light, moisture, sound, aroma.  She uses everyday forms as subject matter for her abstractions, distilling and translating sensory experiences through a visual language that is delicate, complex and inventive. Kelsey’s paintings and drawings have been exhibited in group and solo exhibitions regionally and nationally, including the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art; Samson Projects, Boston; Gallery 19, Chicago and The Berkeley Art Center. She was an Artist-in-Residence at the Vermont Studio Center in 2003 and received a University of    Wisconsin System Summer Research Grant in 2010. Kelsey earned her BFA in Painting and Drawing from Minnesota State University and MFA in Painting and Drawing from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Currently, she serves as Professor in the Department of Performing and Visual Arts, University of Wisconsin-Platteville. 


Creating Unity: A Centennial Celebration

Works by Women Artists from 1890-Present from the Blanden Permanent Collection

West Gallery

January - December 30, 2021

About the Exhibit

Art inspires us to visit the concept of “Unity” and see ourselves as part of a bigger Universe.

- Leni Kae   

Significant strength centers on unity. The universe is a perfect example of this strength. As we look out into the cosmos, everything seems to be in its place, doing what everything should be doing, harmony in the sky. As humans, there has always been a fascination with the stars and their steadfast qualities. On earth, we try to find and establish unity and order inspired by the universe. As human culture developed the concept of order/unity, this focus has changed history, art, and much more.


In this exhibit, the Blanden invites visitors to explore the concept of unity in multiple ways: Unity as a principle of art and design, Unity in the context of honoring the combined effort by American women that fought for a voice in Democracy, and unity as the collective creative vision of women artists.


Unity, as a principle of art, refers to how parts of artwork work together, the "Gestalt" – or the whole. Artists accomplish this whole through working and understanding the mechanisms of art. These mechanisms are the elements and principles, how they interact with each other, and the viewer's perception of the interaction. Unity, as it relates to history and creative output, has its roots in this basic understanding of the whole working together for a creative outcome.


This year America unites with celebrating American women that fought for a change and struggled to have a voice and input on US governance. Starting with the Progressive movement in 1890, American women rallied together to reform society and politics. The main objectives of this group were to eliminate problems caused by industry, urban living, immigration, and political corruption. The group's triumph came on August 18, 1920, with the signing of the 19th Constitutional Amendment. Unifying under a single voice is a powerful device used to accomplish great things and provides clear perceptions.


This exhibit showcases women artists whose works have been collected over the years and preserved in the Blanden Permanent Collection. By exclusively featuring women artists spanning centuries, subjects, and mediums, their works display a unified change in perceptions of an art world dominated by male artists. Museums all over the world are focusing on highlighting great women artists to rewrite the narrative, pulling back the years of darkness, and submitting to the world stage great artists.

Unity is accomplished in many ways. Within the setting of history and visual art, The Blanden's presentation offers engaging narratives and discourse which frame an environment of learning and understanding. At the heart of this simple understanding and perception is a connection to a powerful universe and one another. 

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Additional information forthcoming for the following:


  • Greg Edmondson -Before Language - East Gallery                                     Feb 26 - May 21, 2022

  • Roy Burges - Hidden Faces - Second Floor Gallery                                     Jan 8 - March 5, 2022

  • Perspective of Architecture: Blanden Collection - West Gallery        January 2022