College News

Shafer Art Gallery acquires significant art collection thanks to generous donation; opening reception June 7

Painting by Roberta Condon "Unbounded Umbers, Unsafe Utopias"
"Unbounded Umbers, Unsafe Utopias," by Roberta Condon
Painting by Roberta Condon "Exalted Expanses, Exploding Exurbs"
"Exalted Expanses, Exploding Exurbs," by Roberta Condon
Painting by Roberta Condon "Fences and Furrows, Financial Failures"
"Fences and Furrows, Financial Failures," by Roberta Condon
Painting by Roberta Condon "Peaceful Pastures, Purity of Product"
"Peaceful Pastures, Purity of Product," by Roberta Condon
Painting by Roberta Condon "Idyllic Imagery, Increasing Industrializaion"
"Idyllic Imagery, Increasing Industrialization," by Roberta Condon

May 30, 2024
Story by Maggie Harris
Courtesy photos submitted

The Shafer Art Gallery at Barton Community College is pleased to announce the acquisition of the "American Pastoral" art collection, made possible through a donation from renowned agrarian art collectors Mark and Carol Moseman.

This collection, created by celebrated artist Roberta Condon, highlights the beauty and historical significance of the American agricultural landscape. Mark, who coined the term "Agrarian Art," meant to express man’s relation to the land, and his wife Carol have been avid supporters and collectors of the genre. Their commitment to preserving agrarian life is evident in their significant contribution to the Gallery. Mark said that he and his wife grew up on family farms and have searched for a collection like this all their lives.

“The loss of the family farm is one of the most significant events in American history and until now was not expressed in a museum-quality art collection,” he said. “'American Pastoral' is iconic and exceptional. It needs to be preserved, and we felt we were meant to preserve it."

A lifelong artist, Condon was inspired to create the collection during a series of hikes along the Ice Age Trail in Wisconsin. She said she was drawn to paint the landscape series when passing by beautiful farmland that was rapidly disappearing.

“I was unable just to paint the beauty,” she said. “So, I proceeded with a project that would educate the public as to the reasons these farms were failing while at the same time preserving the beauty I saw around me.”

The collection was chosen specifically for the communities of Barton County to experience because of the agricultural region in which it resides. The Mosemans believe it can be an invaluable resource for Barton students and the surrounding communities.

"Students who understand the past will be better prepared to go into the future,” he said. “The collection will help the College community understand the cultural and historical context of the agricultural technology that they teach, learn, and practice."

Condon aims to raise awareness about the decline of family farms in the Midwest through her artwork, preserving the beauty of rural America while educating the public about the challenges these communities face.

“The loss of this lifestyle has far-reaching consequences to the community, the schools, the land, the animals, and even the core values that we treasure,” she said. “Many of the views in this series have already disappeared. I drive past these scenes all the time and cherish the lifestyle and the images I see.”

The donation by the Mosemans underscores their views on the importance of the arts in education and highlights the significance of the agricultural region remembering where they came from.

“Agrarian life, including family farms, brought this nation along.  We must not forget,” said Carol. “Preserving and sharing this singular collection will help us remember what brought our nation along.”

The Gallery will host an opening reception to unveil “American Pastoral: An Alphabetic Primer on the Loss of the Midwestern Family Farm” at 6:30 p.m. June 7, featuring artist comments and light refreshments. The exhibit will run through August 10.

Throughout the summer, the Shafer Gallery is open Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is always free. For more information, contact Shafer Gallery Director Alyssa Bliven at or (620) 792-9342. Summer hours end July 26.