Remembering Elden Tefft: University of Kansas Sculpture and Friend of Paraguay

Earlier this month Elden Tefft died at the age of 95. Elden retired from the University of Kansas in 1990 but was an active sculptor until his death working with his son Kim in their studio close to Lawrence.

Elden made at least 3 trips to Paraguay supported in part by Kansas-Paraguay Partners. In 1984 he traveled to Asuncion to conduct a needs assessment for a bronze foundry. He met noted Paraguayan sculptor Hermann Guggiari. As his obituary (read his obituary at this link (http://obituaries.ljworld.com/obituaries/ljworld/obituary.aspx?n=elden-cecil-tefft&pid=174196559&fhid=24990) states when Elden started out bronze sculpture was considered a craft since the work had to be finished in a foundry at another location. Elden took it upon him self to help institutions construct their own foundries. He did that at the University of Kansas and the Catholic University of Asuncion among many other institutions around the world.

Elden returned to Paraguay in 1988 with his assistant Gerald Miller. They spent 7 weeks working with Hermann Guggiari constructing a metal casting foundry at the School of Sculpture/Atheneum.

In 1989 Elden returned to Paraguay to teach a 3-week class in Guggiari’s workshop. Elden taught his signature lost wax method. One of his students was Paraguayan sculpture Gustavo Beckelmann who visited Kansas in 2008 to be part of the exhibit of Paraguayan art at the Mulvane Art Museum at Washburn University. I hosted Gustavo in Lawrence for a couple of days and he mentioned how influential Elden Tefft was in his development as a sculpture. Gustavo and Elden were able to get together for a short visit. Gustavo told Elden about his artistic influence and showed him some of this work.

Gustavo wrote the following wonderful tribute to Elden upon hearing of his death.

Conocí a Elden Tefft en 1989 en el taller del escultor paraguayo Hermann Guggiari. él vino al Paraguay a dar un curso de fundición en bronce a la cera perdida, el año anterior había estado acá, para diseñar y construir los hornos y utensilios necesarios para esa técnica.

Elden era elegante, así como elegante era su manera de trabajar. Sólo dejaba de lado su saco y vestía un delantal, todavía con la corbata puesta, tanto para modelar o hacer un molde o fundir bronce, lo único diferente es que para la fundición el delantal era de cuero y lo acompañaba con una delicada gorra confeccionada con una hoja de diario.

Su aproximación a la cera perdida era elegante, esta es una ténica muy difícil y él conseguía con extremado trabajo reducir al mínimo las posibilidades de que la pieza tuviera problemas.

Lo volví a ver en Lawrence en 2008, ya con graves problemas de salud, pero tuvo la picardía de saludarme con un ejemplar del suplemento cultural de un diario, en que en primera página estaban él y una alumna en aquél famoso curso de fundición.

Elden y sus enseñanzas contribuyeron en gran medida a lo que es hoy mi vida y mi arte, así como me imagino que habrá sido con innumerables otros que pasaron por su cátedra. Eso hace que la memoria sea dulce y menos dolorosa. Hasta siempre Elden, maestro!

Artist Exchanges Between Kansas and Paraguay

Below is a link to a nice article that appeared in ABC Color about Kansas artist Eric Conrad and his visit to Paraguay.  I want to use this opportunity to mention some of the artist exchanges that have occurred between Kansas Paraguay Partners and Comite Paraguay Kansas.  It is a remarkable history all made possible through travel grants from Partners of the Americas.There have also been many musical artist exchanges. I will review those another time. I will miss some artists so feel free to let me know who I missed.

Eric Conrad is an art professor at Emporia State University and is part of the most recent project where Kansas artists are helping judge contests in Paraguay with the winners coming to Kansas in the future.  Amber Hansen traveled to Paraguay a few months ago as part of this same project.  She helped judge a photography contest.  Judith McCrea is an art professor at the University of Kansas (KU) who is helping with this project and has traveled to Paraguay several times and hosted the well respected artist Carlos Colombino in Kansas.  The work that he created while in Kansas is part of the collection of the Spencer Museum of Art at KU. Another very recent Paraguayan artist who visited Kansas is Teresita Gonzalez who presented her photographs of the Paraguayan Hospital de Clinicas.

The ABC Color article mentions other Paraguayan sculptors who met with Eric.  One of those is Gustavo Beckelmann who visited Kansas during the Paraguayan art exhibit held at Washburn University in 2008.  He in turn was greatly influenced by Elden Teft a KU professor who traveled to Paraguay many years ago to teach sculpture.  Gustavo took one of Elden’s classes and was greatly influenced by what he learned.

The art exhibit at the Mulvane Museum at Washburn University in 2008 was curated by Reinhild Janzen who was director of the museum.  She travel to Paraguay and met many artists and brought back works that helped make the exhibit a success.  Speaking of Paraguayan art exhibits in Kansas, there was an exhibit of 20 pieces way back in 1969. This exhibit was at the Wichita Public Library.

Gene Ernst was a professor at Kansas State University who traveled to Paraguay to make sketches from the Jesuit Missions. He turned his sketches into beautiful note cards that I still use and treasurer.

A wonderful large sculpture along Interstate 70 was constructed by Herman Guggiari who was hosted many years ago by Ross and Marianna Beach.  The Beaches also were critically important in the creation of a museum of wood carved saints in Santa Maria de Fe.  The saints were carved by indigenous Paraguayans during the time of the Jesuit Missions.

Let me know what I missed.

Here is the link to the ABC Color article.

http://www.abc.com.py/edicion-impresa/artes-espectaculos/intercambio-a-traves-de-la-escultura-1297490.html

Kansas American Youth Leadership Program Delegation

The Kansas delegation of American Youth Leadership Program (AYLP) 2014, and family members, got acquainted June 23 evening. We appreciate the hospitality of KPP and especially Tina Williams at International House, Washburn University. Five youth from Topeka and Stilwell Kansas are part of 21 from 7 states who will travel to Washington and Paraguay during July. AYLP engages with new cultures to increase leadership skills and promote volunteer community service. It is funded by the US Dept. of State through Partners of the Americas. Comite Py Kansas will host in PY. Steve Richards is one of 3 mentors with the group.

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Bombero Jorge Martin Visits Kansas!

Work on the Emergency Preparedness Committee’s Bombero Project continued after the POA Conference in Washington, D.C. last week,    Jorge Martín visited Kansas where he was hosted by John Poertner and Edith Black in Lawrence.  During his stay in Lawrence, Jorge rode with the Lawrence Fire Department and met with the Topeka Fire Chief.  Pictured above,  from left to right are:  John Poertner, Kim Kreicker, Graham Kreicker, Jorge Martín, Karen and Andrea  Acosta.

Kim and Graham Kreicker and Jorge discuss Graham’s upcoming trip to Paraguay.

 

 

 

 

 

Tina Williams at Washburn University also hosted a merienda for Jorge while he was in Topeka–in the photo below are John Poertner, Jorge Martín, and Rafaella Fustango (pink shirt) and Olinda Bareiro (tan jacket), who are Paraguayan students attending Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas:

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