March 1, 2017
When TSP founder Harold Spitznagel stopped at Augustana University (then a college) to visit his friends in the art department at the liberal-arts school, Carl Grupp sometimes tagged along when they went for coffee.
Grupp’s ties to “Spitz” make TSP’s involvement in an exhibition honoring Grupp and his personal art collection even more special. “Carl Grupp: Artist and Collector” now is on display in the Everist Gallery West of the Washington Pavilion’s Visual Arts Center, in downtown Sioux Falls, S.D. While the exhibit will be open until June, the reception for the collection runs from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 3.
The event is free and includes hors d’oeuvres along with a cash bar. Grupp’s gallery talk will be at 6:30 p.m. TSP and Augustana University co-sponsor of the exhibit.
Gallery Talk & Reception: 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, March 3
Exhibition: Runs through June 11, 2017
Grupp, who moved to Sioux Falls in 1953, had known of TSP founder Spitznagel for several years. He and Spitznagel’s son, Steve, had graduated from the same class at Washington High School in 1957. Steve was valedictorian, Grupp says, while Grupp envisioned his own post-high-school career would continue as he’d been: stocking shelves and bagging groceries at the 26th and Minnesota Sunshine store.
His life changed, however, when his civics teacher stopped by the store one day and suggested the teenager consider college. Spurred by that encouragement, Grupp attended Augustana for a year, then pursued his passion for art at the School of Associated Arts in St. Paul, Minn., the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, and serving as a teaching assistant at a printmaking class before touring Europe.
Grupp returned to Augustana in 1969, where he joined a faculty that included Spitznagel friends and collaborators, art professors Palmer Eide and Ogden Dalrymple. He described Spitznagel, who often would stroll through the art department’s doors, as “very elegant-looking all the time.” “I was in awe of him all the time,” Grupp said, “the way he comported himself. All three of them, they were very classy people.” Grupp was aware of the emphasis Spitznagel placed on integrating art into the pieces he and his fellow architects designed. Only the really great architects push that concept, Grupp said. He also was aware of Spitznagel’s reputation as a jokester, one that the men in his office shared. Grupp still delights in the stories he heard about the walling-up of Spitz’s office after a trip away and the time the building was turned into a tire store with even a substitute brought in for the receptionist.
Grupp has other connections to TSP, too. He worked with art professor Bob Aldern, who began as a draftsman at TSP. He also helped establish the Spitznagel Medal for Arts Achievement, the highest honor given by Augustana’s art department.
Planning for the event began months ago, Grupp said. Grupp focused his art on lithographs but he also worked in other media. His collection on display – a fraction of the artwork crammed into his home – includes pieces by students, friends, and nationally and internationally known artists such as sculptor Paul Granlund.
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