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Charles M. Capps

(1898 - 1981)
Charles M. ‘Chili’ Capps was a native of Illinois and one of the eleven charter members of the famed Prairie Print Makers group ( along with two other charter members, Norma Bassett Hall and C.A. Seward).

He studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts before taking a job at the Western Lithographic Company in Wichita, Kansas. He worked as a commercial artist in San Francisco in the early 1920s before returning to Kansas, where the Prairie Print Makers group was founded in 1930 at the Lindsborg studio of the Swedish-American artist Birger Sandzen.

Capps was not a prolific artist, creating only about 90 prints over the course of 50 years, but he was widely recognized as a master of the difficult technique of etching and aquatint.

His command of the medium has no better exemplar than his 1949 image of the splendid San Jose church at Las Trampas. Capps’s evocation of the early morning sun on the east side of the church is almost photographic in its precision and clarity but evidences the romantic ambiance found in the best of his New Mexico subjects.

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