My eyes widened this week after I came across an online article from the Star Tribune, which reported upon the recent uncovering of lost artwork of the Minnesota artist Josephine Lutz Rollins: “Unburied treasure in Stillwater”
Rollins joined the faculty of the University of Minnesota in 1927 and continued as an instructor until 1965. Her legacy as a Minnesota artist spreads far past the University, however. A 2007 exhibition organized by the Minnesota Historical Society and the Minnesota Museum of American Art titled, “In her Own Right: Minnesota’s First Generation of Women Artists,” placed Rollins alongside other female artists that contributed to the arts and culture of the state. A biography of Rollins can be found in an article on the exhibit from MPRnews.
The name “Rollins” has appeared several times in the WAM collection, specifically in folders and catalogs that document two exhibitions that were held at the University Gallery:
Historic Buildings in Minnesota: Jo Lutz Rollins, 1949
“Mrs. Rollins has never for a moment forgotten that her task as an artist is not merely to record certain historical monuments, but somehow to translate these buildings into works of art which will exist and have value in and of themselves. She has never at any time lost sight of her task of organizing a two-dimensional area through the application of water color pigment. And not only do these paintings exist as fine formal statements of a most exacting medium, but a comparative study of the works illustrates how effectively and sensitively she has responded to the particular quality, the specific mood of the subject she was portraying. The paintings thus become not only a most illuminating mirror of Minnesota history, but more important, a fine interpretation and translation into an artistic medium of a century of Minnesota.” – H. H. Arnason, Chairman, Department of Art, Exhibit Catalog
Josephine Lutz Rollins: Retrospective Exhibition, 1962
“Mrs. Rollins appreciates what time does to man’s environment; she is attracted to a world that is not new and shiny. In her paintings the viewer finds few people; but they are not missed; for their trace is everywhere, in the way an old historic house sits on the land, in the look of a familiar river bank, in the enchantment of a foreign city. It has been her distinction to have reaffirmed the familiar in such a way as to have translated it into works of art of lasting merit.” – Sidney Simon, Director, University Gallery
WAM’s permanent collection contains many works by Rollins. View her water colors, drawings, and other works at the Digital Content Library.
Rebecca Wilson is a graduate student in the Master of Liberal Studies program at the University of Minnesota, completing a minor in Museum Studies. She also serves as a Visitor Services Assistant at the Weisman Art Museum.