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Friday, May 6, 2016

Witter's Hidden Treasure

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Witter Gallery is sharing a wonderful exhibit throughout the month with works of two of Storm Lake's favorite artists - Dorothy Skewis and Ella Witter.

In a special ceremony Friday, eight lithographs created by Dorothy which have never before been displayed to the public, were unveiled, as was a lovely painted interpretation by Witter of her sister Frieda who died at a young age of spinal meningitis.

The Witter painting has belonged to Helen Van Veldhuizen, a second cousin, for 40 years and is on special display. Twenty-nine of Ella's other paintings are back on display after undergoing needed repair work of restretching and reframing.

Though the two Storm Lake artists died many years ago, their work lives on and continues to be enjoyed. The Gallery houses a permanent collection of nearly 100 pieces of art ranging from paintings to educational materials.

Ella Witter was born in 1882 in Storm Lake. After graduating from SLHS, she went on to continue her education at the Art Institute of Chicago and later went on to study under famous artists and art critic Hans Hoffman in Germany. She also studied art under Diego Rivera in Mexico City.

She taught for over 25 years in a variety of schools. After retiring, she returned to SL and continued her art work and as an educator. She died in 1970.

Helen shared with the group Friday letters of Ella's travels to Europe in the 1920s. She also shared that she always knew that Ella was talented and she wishes more of that talent would have been passed on down to her.

Frieda, the pretty girl in the painted picture, as Helen recalls, taught her to tie her shoes; the painting is very special to her.

Dorothy Skewis was born in Inwood in 1900, moving to SL at the age of 11. She graduated from SLHS and went on to attend Morningside College and later went on to attend the Art Institute of Chicago. She taught for 29 years in Michigan, returning to SL in 1954 where she became the associate professor of art at Buena Vista College. She died in 1983.

Friday's celebration also included music from violinists Joanne Tucker, Lee Thorson, Katie Fulton and Laura Bernhardt.