Jack Guth: An artist at heart

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On February 8, 2006

Jack Guth, CE’50, has always been an artist at heart — even as a schoolboy.

“I used to get in trouble in school for doodling in the margins,” he says. After a successful career in the Navy and with his own company in the Washington, D.C., area, Guth decided to pursue his passion for painting in 1990. He closed his ocean engineering business, Coast Survey Ltd., and moved from Herndon, Va., to Jerome, Ariz., to live the artist’s life.

“I said, ‘I’m going to paint for a year and see if I do any good.’ After 50 paintings, I ended up throwing most of them away.”

But he stuck with the plan, and five years later he and his wife, Denise (Dino), opened Queen’s Neighbor Art Gallery in Jerome.

Since then, he’s made it to the big leagues with a series of 15 large “great moments in baseball” paintings that adorn the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Bank One Ballpark. And now he has given back to the university that helped him launch his professional career with a mural-sized work of art on display in the Havener Center.

Titled “MSM/UMR 20th Century,” the painting hangs in the Havener Center dining area. Consisting of five panels, each 6 feet high by 3 feet wide, the 15-foot-long mural depicts scenes from the campus’ history. The first panel incorporates UMR’s oldest structure, the Rolla Building, in the background, as well as scenes from turn-of-the-century campus life. Later panels progress through the campus’s history in two-decade increments featuring backgrounds of the Chancellor’s Residence, early fraternity houses, Jackling Gymnasium and Parker Hall, and depict student activities and dress, early St. Pat’s celebrations, the post-World War II boom and the campus expansion of the 1960s into the modern era of solar cars and, of course, the structure that houses his work.

It’s not the first time Guth’s work has found a home on campus — some of his earlier works can be seen in the alumni association offices and his fraternity, Sigma Nu — but it is his biggest project for UMR. Guth, who works with acrylic paints, thought a history of the campus during the 20th century a fitting theme, because “I graduated in the middle of the century.” For this project, Guth tried to draw on the work of Missouri’s most famous artist, Thomas Hart Benton, whose mural of Missouri history graces the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City. But “it just wasn’t my style and I could never approach Benton’s genius,” he says. So he went with his own technique of a contemporary collage. The result is a mural that is “kind of modern, but I bring a lot of history in it.”

The five-panel “MSM/UMR 20th Century” was unveiled at the Havener Center during Homecoming 2005.

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On February 8, 2006. Posted in People