Hodges' Bequeathed Art At CMU Ashby-Hodge Gallery

Lifetime supporters of Central Methodist University, Anna Mae Besgrove Hodge and Dr. Robert Hodge, have continued to let their art support The Ashby-Hodge Gallery of American Art even after their passing.

As part of the “Three Winter Shows” currently on display, the Gallery presents “The Robert and Anna Mae Hodge Collection.” The winter show will be open until April 6 on Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 1:30-4:30 p.m. and by appointment. The Gallery is closed during Central’s Spring Break, March 19-26.

The Ashby-Hodge Gallery was created in 1993 and housed on the first floor of Cupples Hall at CMU. Dr. Lawrence Ashby and his wife, Loretta, donated their collection of art, works of 45 artists; and the Hodges, along with the CMU class of 1943, financially supported the Gallery. The Gallery was moved to the first floor of Classic Hall when it was renovated and reopened in 2012.

Dr. Bob, as he was known by his friends, served as a physician in North Kansas City and as Chair of Internal Medicine and President of the Medical Staff at North Kansas City Hospital for many years. He died in 2012.

When Anna Mae passed away in June of 2016, the couple had arranged for the Gallery to receive most of their collected art. The Ashby-Hodge Gallery now has a permanent collection of nearly 1,000 pieces, many in the American Regionalist style.

Bob was from the Central College class of ’42. He went on to get his medical degree at Washington University in 1944. At Central he was a member of the chemistry club, the pre-med honorary, and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia.

Anna Mae graduated from Central in 1944 with a bachelor degree in English and art. She was also deeply interested in historic preservation and archeology - in North Kansas City, Arrow Rock, where they owned multiple properties that they restored, and in Fayette, where she grew up. After graduation from Central College, Anna Mae worked for Hallmark cards, then taught and painted for decades, especially watercolors. She was a featured artist in the Ashby-Hodge Gallery in 2007.

In college, she was in Pi Kappa Theta, art club, the Central Players, and A Cappella Choir. She was the first female president ever elected for the student body in 1943-44. In her later years, she served as a Trustee for the Central Methodist Board, and she was a member of the Board of The Ashby-Hodge Gallery from its inception until shortly before her passing.

Bob was honored with Central’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 1973 and Anna Mae in 1988. They were jointly honored with the College (now University) Service Award in 1999. Bob was also very active in the Kansas City Park system, and Hodge Park, north of the river, was named after him.

The Hodges also gave to Central 86 acres in Fayette that has become a nature sanctuary and an outdoor classroom for CMU students, known as the Besgrove Hodge Sanctuary. The two also presented Central with an endowed Hall of Sponsors Scholarship.

The Hodges gave a number of artworks to the Gallery during their lifetimes; however, they added many new ones in their bequest. The collection on display at the Gallery from the current Hodge gift include Benton, Sandzen and Irvin lithographs; etchings by Kloss, and Lucioni; watercolor by Gant, and oil by Sudlow, among other works.

For more information, email Curator Denise Haskamp or call Supervisor of the Collection Dr. Joe Geist at 660-248-6304.

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