Artist on site

State architect documented his surroundings

Charles Marshall, Kansas' state architect from 1945 to 1952, made at least one drawing a day. He loved to document his surroundings � flowers, animals, family members and farming life.

Andrea Norris, director of the Helen Foresman Spencer Museum of Art at Kansas University, remembers Marshall telling her about how trips with his children were often delayed when he'd pull over to make a sketch.

"He'd see something that interested him and stop and make a drawing right on the spot. The children would groan and wait for him to continue their drive," Norris recalled in a recent museum newsletter.

Several of Marshall's works, under the exhibition title "Charles Marshall: Artist on Site," are on display through Sept. 9 at the Spencer Museum of Art.

Marshall painted and sketched throughout his life. He often depicted Kansas landscapes, documenting small towns, grain elevators and train stations. He kept sketchbooks of various subjects, including everyday scenes, family life, flora and animals.

At his death in 1992, Marshall left his collection of watercolors, drawings, sketchbooks, prints, linoleum block and letters to KU. Most of the works are in the Kansas Collection of the Spencer Research Library, but several watercolors and prints found their way to the art museum.

The exhibition, organized by curatorial assistant Cori Sherman, includes works from the library and the art museum.

Marshall was born in 1905 in Atchison and earned a degree in architecture in 1927 from Kansas State University. After working in Washington, D.C., for the war department, he returned to Kansas and was assistant state architect until being named state architect in 1945.

He designed KU's Smith Hall and West Junior High School. He received the Governor's Artist Award in 1983.


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