Art Museum: Paintings ‘Only The People Like’

Harvey Dunn grew up 50 miles west of Brookings. His father wanted him to stay home on the farm, but Dunn came to Brookings to attend college before studying art in Chicago and becoming a prominent illustrator in New Jersey. Dunn’s East Coast art buyers were not excited when he began to paint humble and haunting pictures of his Dakota roots. However, when he brought 42 of his paintings for a 1950 exhibition in the little town of De Smet, more than 5,000 people came. One critic noted that nobody liked them “but the people.” Today the highly acclaimed paintings are the soul of the South Dakota Art Museum, a collection of works by state artists with rotating exhibits that “only the people like.” Find the museum on the west side of the SDSU campus, just north of the Campanile on Medary Avenue.

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