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HPPR Arts, Culture & History

Dynamic Symmetry: WT Hosts Two Distinguished Lectures about Abstract Painter Emil Bisttram—This Tuesday & Wednesday

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Doorway to the Ethereal Worlds (1959) - Oil on canvas - Emil Bisttram

Today on High Plains Morning, we welcomed West Texas A&M University’s Dr. Amy Von Lintel, Professor of Art History and co-curator of a new exhibit about abstract painter Emil Bisttram. She stopped by to share the details of two events happening this week, both of which are streaming online as part of WT’s Distinguished Lecture Series. Artist and scholar Dr. Ruth Pasquine will speak about Bisttram at 7 pm CT on Tuesday, September 21st to celebrate opening the “Southwest Abstractions of Emil Bisttram” exhibition at the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum. There will also be another lecture and demonstration this Wednesday, September 22nd at 12:15 pm CT for those who wish to learn more, and it’s open to the public for in-person attendance; it’s also streaming online. (See below for Zoom links to register to attend.) Click the link at the top of this page to hear our full interview.

Here’s more about the event (from Chip Chandler, WTAMU): Artist/scholar Dr. Ruth Pasquine will speak at 7 p.m. Sept. 21 to celebrate opening the “Southwest Abstractions of Emil Bisttram” exhibition at the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum. As a Distinguished Lecture Series event, the Zoom presentation will be free and open to the public.

Pasquine, who is the leading scholar on Bisttram’s work, will also have a come-and-go public presentation from 12:15 to 2:45 p.m. Sept. 22 in Mary Moody Northen Hall Room 189, which will include a Zoom option as well. Pasquine will discuss Bisttram’s art and demonstrate the design technique he used in his work called “dynamic symmetry,” which dates back to ancient Egypt and Greece. “These events bring together the PPHM museum, the art program, scholars, professors, students, and staff as it has been a true collaboration for the past year,” said Dr. Amy Von Lintel, professor of art history, who co-curated the Bisttram exhibit at PPHM with Jon Revett, art program director and Doris Alexander Distinguished Professor of Fine Arts. “Students have been central to the exhibition, providing educational videos and art projects in response to Bisttram’s art.”

Pasquine wrote the book “Emil Bisttram (1895-1976): American Painter” and contributed an essay for the catalog to be published with the PPHM exhibition. “She is the perfect person to introduce audiences in our area to this artist, his style, and his importance in American art,” Von Lintel said. Bisttram was an abstract painter who helped found the Transcendental Painting Group in Taos, N.M., in 1938, as well as the Taos Heptagon, which opened in 1933 as the first art gallery in the city.

Bisttram also has an interesting life story. “He was born in Eastern Europe, but immigrated to New York City as a boy, where he became a boxer for money and ran with some street gangs, before finding art as his calling,” Von Lintel said. “He continued exploring abstraction for his long life and was also an influential teacher. He died in 1976, and our exhibition focuses on his later career post-World War II.”

To attend the Sept. 21 event (at 7pm ct) via Zoom, register here: 

wtamu.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_ruXPofN4TeqxsCEQERl-BA.

To attend the Sept. 22 lecture and demonstration (at 12:15 PM CT) via Zoom, register here: 

wtamu.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJElcuCoqT0uHtMW9ZuvNZJ8hGMbnb9qm3Ev.

Registrants will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. 

This Distinguished Lecture Series event encourages engagement with the arts and with regional history, both priorities of the University’s long-term plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.

About WTAMU’s Distinguished Lecture Series : The Distinguished Lecture Series was created to enhance education in the classroom by inviting people of national prominence to speak to WTAMU students and the community about important issues. For information, visit wtamu.edu/about/events/distinguished-lecture-series.html.

About West Texas A&M University: WT is located in Canyon, Texas, on a 342-acre residential campus. Established in 1910, the University has been part of The Texas A&M University System since 1990. WT, a Hispanic Serving Institution since 2016, boasts an enrollment of about 10,000 and offers 60 undergraduate degree programs, 40 master’s degrees and two doctoral degrees. The University is also home to the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, the largest history museum in the state and the home of one of the Southwest’s finest art collections. The Buffaloes are a member of the NCAA Division II Lone Star Conference and offers 14 men’s and women’s athletics programs.