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Jo Lutz Rollins (1896-1989)

Josephine Shella Lutz was born in Sherburn, Minnesota on July 21, 1896.  She attended Cornell College and the University of Minnesota and pursued artistic training at the Corcoran School of Art in Washington D.C. and the Minneapolis School of Art.

Rollins credited well-known Minnesota artist and teacher Cameron Booth as having an important influence on her artwork.  Rollins also spent a year studying with Hans Hofmann in Munich, Germany, in 1930.  Rollins was an art instructor at the University of Minnesota from 1927 to 1965.  In 1933, she was a founding member of the Stillwater Art Colony that operated until 1950.  In 1945, she married Dick Rollins.  In working to balance her life as a married person and an independent artist, Rollins professed, "Women have to fight harder for a place in the art world; households and families often fragment them."


The St. Croix River Valley was among Rollins' favorite subjects to paint, but she also created watercolors of northern Minnesota and several locations throughout Europe, California and Mexico.  Rollins preferred painting outdoors, rather than in the studio, and switched exclusively to watercolors in the 1960s to better accommodate this passion.  Her oil paintings employ unique colors and application. Rollins often used a palette knife to apply paint directly to the surface, while her watercolors convey the immediacy of direct observation.


Rollins' most enduring legacies are her teaching career of more than 40 years, the establishment of the Stillwater Art Colony and the West Lake Gallery, which she co-founded in 1965 in Minneapolis.  The West Lake Gallery was a women's art collective that was active for 20 years.  Due to her professional determination, Rollins enjoyed a lengthy career. Her artwork has been widely exhibited in the Twin Cities and can be found in numerous collections throughout Minnesota.


Rollins died on March 29, 1989, at the age of 92.

Jo Lutz Rollins is featured, along with seven other renowned Minnesota artists (Wanda Gag, Clara Mairs, Alice Hugy, Elsa Laubach Jemne, Frances GreenmanEvelyn Raymond, and Ada Wolfe), in a book entitled "Pioneer Modernists - Minnesota's First Generation of Women Artists."  This beautiful book, published by Afton Press, is available for purchase at Gallery 5004.


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