WINONA, Minn. — A centennial celebration commemorating famed illustrator Rockwell Kent’s time in Winona kicks off today with an exhibition at the Minnesota Marine Art Museum.

“The Art of Rockwell Kent: Images from a Wandering Man” is one of a series of exhibits, classes, performances and other local events over several months that will focus on Kent’s work. Participants include Winona State University, Saint Mary’s University, the Winona County Historical Society and the Winona Public Library.

“It really is a unique opportunity to recognize the work of Rockwell Kent, who was notorious and fascinating,” said the museum’s executive director, Andy Maus.

Maus said the Kent exhibition is a large show, featuring about 77 works. Many pieces are small book plates — Kent was a renowned illustrator who is widely recognized

for illustrating Herman Mellville’s 1929 novel, “Moby Dick.”

Kent was born in New York and briefly lived in Winona in 1912. In addition to his illustrative work, he spent his career painting, writing and being active in politics.

“Stylistically, he was both accomplished as a commercial artist and a fine artist,” Maus said.

A five-day festival dedicated to Kent is planned for February, and will feature a symposium, a workshop on “Moby Dick,” an original play, a documentary screening and other events celebrating

Kent’s work.

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