Ken and June Jennison couldn’t have squeezed one more piece of art onto the walls of their Salina home. Their collection of Smoky Hill River Festival limited edition art prints was “hanging in every room in the house, including the bathrooms and hallways,” Ken said.
This spring, the Jennisons decided to move the collection to their new home, where even more people could enjoy it every day. The couple donated their complete set of 34 prints to Salina Presbyterian Manor, where the art has transformed a hallway into a spectacular gallery of original Kansas art. The collection debuted in April during the annual Art is Ageless exhibit, said Marketing Director Kim Fair.
The Jennisons and their children were involved with the festival from year one; this year, the festival turned 38. One of the event’s cherished traditions is the original artwork commissioned from an area artist. Only festival donors are eligible to receive one of the 250 prints made.
“I really got interested in art in about eighth grade,” said Ken, who grew up in Lacrosse, Kan. “When I went to school at K-State, I took freehand drawing and liked it.” Thanks to a gift from June, Ken later took a calligraphy class and quickly became adept at lettering. He also built a collection of Native American artifacts and artwork.
Many Salinans know Ken from his decades at local radio stations, starting with KSAL in 1949, and from his volunteerism in Sunflower Lions Club and other service groups. Today he continues to work part-time as public service director for Salina Media Group. June was one of the first speech therapists serving Salina children in the 1950s, first in public schools and then out of their home. “It was an exciting time to be doing new things,” she said.
As a result of their community involvement, Ken said, they were greeted by many good friends when they moved to Presbyterian Manor last year. “I think we know about half of everyone. That’s a plus,” he said.