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August 14, 2020

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Take a summer art walk through Bluffton

First installment of a weekly series features the art of John Peter Klassen

Summer is a great time to explore the art spread across the Bluffton community – especially for viewers unable to visit art galleries elsewhere in Ohio.

As a weekly series, The Icon will feature the art created by John Peter Klassen, a long-time Bluffton College art professor.

For some viewers, this series is familiar. For others, it may be a first-time experience.

Either way, it’s an opportunity to take a walk and view some art that is uniquely Bluffton. Much of Klassen’s art is spread through Bluffton University campus, however several pieces, shown later in this series, are elsewhere in the community.

To start the tour here’s a brief background on the artist. Klassen was born in Kronsgarten, Ukraine in 1888. He and his wife, Anna, arrived in Canada in 1923, and eventually arriving in Bluffton the following year, escaping the aftermath of the Russian Revolution.

He was a member of the college art faculty from 1924 to 1958. His works combine religious themes with first-hand observations of the Russian Revolution, where he saw suffering, hardship and death. 

Countless Klassen works are in the collections of friends, former students and artists throughout North American. He died at age 87 in 1975.

The Klassen piece in this week’s feature is a Russian Cossack, completed in 1939. The bronze sculpture is perhaps the artist's most technically complete work. Viewers will find it in Klassen Court, named after the artist. The Court has several Klassen pieces and is located between Founders Hall and Marbeck Center.