Prairie Symphony: |
The Story of Charles Leonard Thiessen
Charles Leonard Thiessen (1903-1989) was a Nebraska artist, critic,
administrator, and teacher whose studies in painting and design took him to
the world’s capitals, especially Stockholm and London. In the 1940s and 50s,
he studied the formation of the British Arts Programs that were to inspire
America’s National Arts Programs.
During World War II, he served in USAAF Intelligence. Following the war,
he dedicated himself to creating art and advancing arts appreciation in
Nebraska and neighboring states. He was the first Executive Director of the
Nebraska Arts Council in Omaha and in that role achieved a national
reputation for excellence, fairness, and creativity as an arts
His art is, however, his greatest gift to the city, the state, and the
nation he served for almost the entirety of the twentieth century. This man
of the Plains was truly one of the “Great Generation.”
Bill Wallis’s Prairie Symphony is a biography that explores the
natural and social forces that shaped this cultured and vivacious
intellectual and painter and also a recounting of arts projects on which
Wallis and Thiessen worked and of the friendship that developed across two
decades — from 1969 to 1989, the year of Dr. Thiessen's death.
One of their early joint projects that celebrated Plains art was an
original opera, Napoleon, in which Wallis performed. That led to a
second opera, Hanblecheya, based on Lakota (Sioux) literature,
legend, and song — the subject of other works. They did a fine arts book of
poetry, and they laid the plans for Prairie Symphony.
Historical interest in such accomplishments has made Prairie Symphony
a rich resource for researchers and students of history.
You, too, can celebrate the Plains. Order your
copy by clicking here.