Art: George Ahgupuk & Rockwell Kent

One of my favorite artists from the 1930s is Rockwell Kent, the painter, illustrator, and designer. Kent combined a passion for art with a love of the outdoors, and did much of his finest work camped out on expeditions to Alaska, Greenland, and other remote & rustic areas. This afternoon, up in Hastings on Hudson, I bought a copy of Greenland, Kent’s book about his sojourn there.
I also learned that a new art exhibit of Eskimo drawings opens this week in a summer exhibit at the Anchorage Museum of Art and History, and that one of the featured artists is by George Aden Ahgupuk,. Apgupuk is an Alaskan Inupiat artist whose mentor was Rockwell Kent, who discovered him on a trip to Alaska.
According to Russell Hartman and Dinah Houghtaling, writing on Native Alaskan Graphic Arts: Founding Artists , in 1936, American artist Rockwell Kent purchased some of Ahgupuk’s drawings while on a trip to Alaska. Although the two artists did not personally meet, Kent proclaimed Ahgupuk a great artist and arranged for his induction into the American Artists Group. Kent also propelled Time Magazine and The New York Times to write feature articles about him, which led to book illustration assignments.
Kent, who feel out of favor in the 50’s for his socialistic beliefs and curmudgeonly views about “modern” art (ie, he HATED abstractionism). An easy way to see why I like his so much is is read one of his books or look at some of his prints, woodcuts and paintings. Here are a few, all available for sale from the Aaron Gallery:

The most complete collection of Kent’s work is in Plattsburgh, New York at the Art Museum at SUNY Plattsburgh. Good links to his work are at Artcyclopedia the Smithsonian Magazine.m and an Alaskan department of education page about his book Wilderness, here.
Here’s a pix of the artist from the 30s–I was surprised at how contemporary it appears.

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