Gladys M. Lux

LUX Permanent Art Collection


A lifelong Nebraska resident, Gladys Lux came from a family of homesteaders and grew up on farms in and around Hall County. Her parents were supportive of her early art interests and even after her mother’s untimely death, Lux’s father encouraged her to attend the University of Nebraska where she earned an art degree and later a master’s degree in art and art history. Through her schooling, her teaching and hard work, she learned how to express herself through oil, watercolor and printmaking. Recognizing her good fortune at the opportunity to attend college, she paid it forward through a 40-year career of teaching at Nebraska Wesleyan University. Lux was head of the art department and for many years the only member of the art faculty. While there, she started an art gallery on campus and organized exhibits of student work.

Having experienced the hardships of the Great Depression and rural living, her art depicted the people and the sometimes-harsh landscape with keen sensitivity and accuracy. This authentic style won her numerous regional awards and representation at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York City. In addition to exhibiting in Nebraska, Lux also showed her art in Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, and Texas.


During the Great Depression years, Lux applied for support from the Public Works of Art Project under the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Qualification meant subsidies from the government to continue her work as an artist.

She was accepted but then dropped from the program in favor of an artist with greater need. To her disappointment, Lux never received payment for her work.

Despite her setbacks, Lux earned state recognition with a Governor’s Arts Award, Mayor’s Arts Award and the Distinguished Service Award from the Retired Teachers Association.

Like the farmers in her life, Gladys Lux had faith in the future. In 1984, she purchased the 1914 University Place City Hall and envisioned renovating it to become a place that would strengthen the community and support the work of artists through its exhibitions and programs. A museum on the upper floors would house her own collection of prints, dolls, crafts and her personal artwork. Through this generous gift, she insured what was already a formidable legacy.

After Lux’s death in 2003, at the age of 104, the University Place Art Center was renamed the LUX Center for the Arts in her honor.

Gladys Lux spent her life in Nebraska partly because she felt such a strong affinity with its landscape. She believed in her home state’s potential and she appreciated its most important asset, the people.


Biographical Statement was written by Sharon Kennedy