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1975: 50 Works for 50 Years

Mel Spinar

Hilton M. Briggs and Elmer H. Sexauer

Mel Spinar is professor emeritus in drawing and painting at South Dakota State University, where he taught from 1969-2003. He studied under Milton Kudlacek at Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell before receiving his M.A. and M.F.A. from the University of Iowa, Iowa City. His series "Dakota Male Portraits" depicts young men of the 1970s and 80s: confrontational, brash and proud. Since the 1990s, his work has focused on his Bohemian ancestry, their cultural legends and his West River roots.

This commissioned double-portrait depicts SDSU President H.M. Briggs (1913-2001) on the left and Elmer Sexauer (1888-1986), South Dakota business leader. Briggs played a central role in reigniting the museum capital campaign in the 1960s and he brought on Sexauer as fundraising chairman. Read more about the historic fundraising campaign that Sexauer led in this 1970 article, South Dakota Memorial Art Center and see images of Briggs and Sexauer from the 1970 dedication and the 1977 ceremony honoring Sexauer for his contributions to the museum in the photo slider on the page.

Hear from Mel Spinar himself in this 2013 Ipso Gallery video.

Sources: South Dakota Memorial Art Center: The First Ten Years, “Early planning of the Memorial Art Center” by H.M. Briggs, p. 7. "Both Sides of the River: Mel Spinar Retrospective Exhibition," “Reflections on Both Sides of the River” by Mel Spinar.

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