Geist-Yancey Lecture Coming Soon

Moss.jpgThe inaugural Geist-Yancey Lecture on Fine Arts is coming soon to the campus of Central Methodist University, with guest Patricia Moss slated to speak on George Caleb Bingham’s contributions to art in Missouri. This year’s event will be the first iteration of the annual lecture named for two of Central’s most beloved professors of the arts, Dr. Joe Geist and the late Tom Yancey.

Geist served as a member of the Central faculty from 1972 through 1998. He was named Professor Emeritus after retiring from teaching and served as curator of the Ashby-Hodge Gallery of American Art from 1998 to 2014. He now serves as the registrar. Geist’s professional life has been dedicated to the furthering of the liberal arts, culture, literature, and learning.

Yancey, a 1954 graduate of Central, joined the faculty of the Swinney Conservatory in 1958, later serving as the dean of the Conservatory. Yancey also accepted Professor Emeritus status in 1995, and in addition to being an accomplished musician, he was a well-known artist.

Geist and Yancey were the co-founders of the Ashby-Hodge Gallery, which now features rooms named in their honor. The purpose of this endowed lecture is to provide a lasting legacy of the two men’s endless pursuit of the furthering of the pillars of higher education and the arts.

“We have five endowed lectures now, with the addition of this one,” said Geist. “Until now, there was no [lecture] for fine arts, and that was the contribution I wanted to make. My idea was to fill that academic gap.”

Geist and a committee of other campus leaders have been working on getting this arts-focused lecture series started since before the start of the COVID pandemic and are finally seeing their efforts come to fruition. The lectures will have a theme of “cultural affairs,” focusing specifically on literature, theatre, art, or music, and the speakers will be noted individuals from outside the CMU community.

The first of these speakers is Patricia Moss of Ilwaco, Wash., known as “The Bingham Lady.” Originally from the Kansas City area, Moss has been systematically locating more than 70 “lost” Bingham portraits for more than two decades. Moss is an accomplished art historian who specializes in 19th century American portraits. She helped curate the Bingham Bicentennial Exhibit and the Historic Truman Courthouse in Independence.

Moss says she is “honored and humbled” to be the first speaker in the new series, especially after getting to know the lecture’s namesakes.

“I think the world of Joe Geist and Tom,” she said. “I didn’t know them well, but they both are such fine people who changed the world through who they were. They affected so much at CMU but from what I know of them, it’s the way they helped individuals. It’s like a pebble in a pond – the ripple effect.”

Moss’s talk is entitled “On the Early Days of Bingham in Missouri as an Artist” and will take place at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 21. The lecture will be held in the Inman Lecture Hall (Stedman 200).


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