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Museum to Unveil Completed Charles Hargens Gallery at Grand Opening

Released:  Mon, May 7, 2012

Mitchell, SD – The Dakota Discovery Museum will be hosting a Grand Opening event to celebrate the completion of the Charles Hargens Studio and Gallery permanent exhibit on Saturday, May 12 from 1pm to 5 pm. The event is free to the public.

Charles W. Hargens, Jr. was born in Hot Springs, SD on August 30, 1893. His father had recently graduated from Northwestern University Medical College at Chicago and was establishing his practice in Hot Springs. His mother was a teacher. At the age of 6 he was making charcoal drawings of houses and barns. People took notice and often asked him to draw their homes or buildings. He was paid 25 cents for those early drawings. After his parents separated, he spent the school year with his mother in the Omaha-Council Bluffs area and the summers with his father in Hot Springs. He sometimes traveled to Chicago with his father and spent the days at the Art Institute while his father conducted business. While he attended high school in Council Bluffs, Hargens took art classes and worked in the studio of a portrait painter. Although his father, Doc Hargens, wanted his son to become a doctor, he agreed to allow Charles to attend the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. While there, Hargens won a Cresson Scholarship to study in Paris. In Paris he enrolled in the Carolossi and Julian Academy and traveled throughout Europe visiting the great museums. After returning to Philadelphia his career began to take off with book jackets, magazine illustrations and advertisements. He distinguished himself with his western illustrations that painstakingly detailed life in the “west” as he had experienced it.
His illustrations appeared on the covers of magazines such as the Saturday Evening Post, Colliers, Gentleman’s Quarterly, Boys Life, Automobile Trade Journal, and others. He illustrated advertisements for Stetson Hats and Coca-Cola and illustrated the works of authors published by Lippincott, Macrae Smith and other national companies.
In 1917 he married Marjorie Garman, a fashion illustrator for ladies magazines. They had a son, Charles William Hargens, III and the family traveled back to South Dakota every summer where he painted and photographed the “west” as he saw it.
Charles Hargens was one of the early supporters of the Friends of the Middle Border, the cultural center founded on the campus of Dakota Wesleyan University in 1939 in Mitchell, SD. In 1940, he donated some of the first works of art to the fledgling museum now known as the Dakota Discovery Museum. In 1982, he was granted an honorary doctorate of fine arts by Dakota Wesleyan University. When Hargens died on January 30, 1997, his family honored his wish that his art studio and many of his Western works be donated to the museum. The Charles Hargens Studio and Gallery have been made possible by the generous gifts of Mr. and Mrs. Charles W. Hargens, III, Gar Hargens and Mary Staples Thompson, the Grundy Foundation, the McKee Family and Hargens family friends.
The afternoon will host the artist’s grandson, Gar Hargens speaking on his memories of his grandfather and his work. Area community members involved in the studio collection’s transfer to Mitchell and exhibit designer James Johnson will also speak on the process of creating the permanent exhibit. Artists and artisans will be creating and crafting throughout the museum and the grounds, music will be performed throughout the afternoon and refreshments will be available.
The afternoon’s activities begin at 1 pm and go until 5 pm. Admission is free. The Dakota Discovery Museum is located on the campus of Dakota Wesleyan University, 1300 McGovern Ave. Current museum hours are 9 am to 5 pm. The museum is closed on Sunday and Wednesday.
Dakota Discovery Museum
Lori Holmberg, Executive Director
PO Box 1071
1300 McGovern Ave.
Mitchell, SD  57301