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Terence Duren - The Art of A Prodigy

On September 15th, as part of Aurora's Artwalk, a special exhibit of Terence Duren pencil sketches will be on display at Plainsman.

Terence Duren was born in 1904, an only child whose mother died before he was a year old. Raised by his father and his Aunt Camilla, he contracted polio at the age of five, was bedridden for more than a year, unable to walk for nearly two years, and permanently lost use of his left arm between elbow and shoulder.

During this time of what had to be mind-bending boredom for a 5 year old, Terence's father brought him a box of crayons and a tablet of paper. This, Duren said as an adult, was the moment he realized he was an artist.

More than 35 sketches made by Duren at the age of 11 will be on display in the museum rotunda. A small sample of the sketches are shown in the table above (click on photo to see larger version).

The young boy was taken with the artwork of Nellie Brinkley and her "Brinkley Girls", and when only 11 years old - long before the digital age - he created an enormous, intricate, intelligent collection of Brinkley Fan Art.

The artwork on the left is by Terence Duran, on the right Nell Brinkley.

Wesley Huenefeld and Gwen Allen, two former executive directors and long-time supporters of the Plainsman Museum were as taken with the artwork of Duren as he was with Brinkley. In 1991, they lent their personal Duran's to the Terence Duren Retrospective Exhibition that toured Nebraska from August 1991 to January 1992. Two of them, "Apple Orchard" and "Crystal Palace" are part of a private, unphotographed collection now. "Hay Meadow" (shown below) was displayed in Lincoln's Miller & Paine for many years and is now part of a private collection as well.

Although he had no use of the upper portion of his left arm, Terence Duren played piano in jazz groups in Chicago while attending the Art Institute (1925-1931). He designed theatrical costumes that were worn by legendary actors Rudolf Valentino and Mae West, among many.

In 1931, he went to France to study at Ecole des Beaux-Arts and while he was there met Henri Matisse, who advised him "Listen to no one. Especially Painters. If you have any convictions at all, use them. Show your personality on Canvas." And he spent the rest of his life doing just that.

He spent the latter part of the 1930s and the first part of the 1940s traveling and teaching. In 1941 he had a showing at the Jocelyn Museum in Omaha, and following that decided to move back to Shelby, NE, where he lived until his death. Ironically, just as he had been bedridden as a child and discovered a new world in art, in 1968 he was bedridden again from chronic illness and discovered the land from which no man returns.

The Plainsman Museum will also be displaying one of Duren's oil paintings, Indian Affair, Oil and Matchstick:

Indian Affair, Oil and Matchstick, Terence Duren

Recently, Cole Sartore of the Bone Creek Museum of Agrarian Art came to the Plainsman to take on loan two of Duren's works:

Indian Affair Woman in Hat Silver Bay

oil and matchstick 1915, color pencil 1915, pencil on paper

and pastel on paper

Indian Affair will be on display at the Plainsman during ArtWalk 2018, while Woman in Hat and Silver Bay remain at the Bone Creek Museum of Agrarian Art for the duration of their showing.

Photos of these three works can also be found in

Cole Sartore's book Worthy Rivals.

ArtWalk in Aurora is September 15th, 2018. More information here

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