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Huseby, John C.

Published onJul 30, 2021
Huseby, John C.

(April 6, 1917 - February 11, 1994)

Quick Facts

John Courtney Huseby was a prolific and award-winning artist as well as a fine art print collector. His skills as an artist led him to eventually become the Senior Graphic Designer at Iowa State University publications. Huseby also designed Iowa State University’s Official Seal in 1959.

John C. Huseby was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota on April 6, 1917 to John Christian Huseby and Anna (Restod) Huseby. Both of his parents were immigrants from Norway before settling in the Midwest. John Courtney's father, John Christian Huseby, had no college education and worked as a hardware salesman for a single company for over 50 years. John Christian and Anna Huseby had two daughters and three sons.

Huseby attended Minneapolis Central High school near the place of his birth from 1932 to 1935. He was academically inclined and was inducted into the National Honor Society during high school. Following graduation, he attended the Carnegie Institute of Technology, now known as Carnegie Mellon University, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. National Scholastic magazine and the Carnegie Institute both awarded Huseby academic scholarships to offset the price of his education. He graduated from the institution in 1937.

Upon completion of his education in the Eastern United States, Huseby returned to his home town of Minneapolis and worked as a free-lance artist from June, 1937 to August, 1938. Following this time, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis hired Huseby to work as an exhibition specialist and would later feature an exhibition of his artwork in July of 1941. However, the start of World War II pulled Huseby from his job at Walker, and he was drafted into the United States Army.

During the War, Huseby attained the rank of technical sergeant and worked in military intelligence with the 120th Combat Engineers of the 45th Infantry Division. The military sent Huseby all over Europe; he served with campaigns in Southern France, Southern Italy, Sicily and Germany. The army awarded him the Legion of Merit in 1944.

While stationed in France, Huseby was awarded a three-day pass to Paris for winning a quiz show competition hosted by his Army company. While in Paris, Huseby purchased several rare prints, including an unsigned Picasso for $40. This burgeoning fascination with prints would become a lifelong hobby for Huseby and intertwine closely with his professional life.

After the War, Huseby returned to work at the Walker Art Center. By 1948, Huseby left Minneapolis and accepted a job moving to Ames, Iowa to work for Iowa State College (now University). During his first few years with Iowa State, Hueby's original art began receiving awards in central Iowa contests. In 1951, Huseby's work earned him third place in watercolor at the Iowa State Fair. In the year following, the Iowa State Fair judges awarded Huseby first place, also in watercolor.

On July 1, 1947 Iowa State University's publications office hired Huseby to be a staff artist; however, only four years later on July 1, 1951 his responsibilities had grown, and his title had risen to that of "publications manager". By 1981, his official position was listed on University documentation as "Senior Graphic Designer."

Huseby's direct influence to the graphics department at Iowa State University spanned decades, from the late 1940s the early 1980s, and oversaw thousands of University publications. His publications communicated efforts on the expanding academia of the University and publicized fundraising for the expanding campus. His work towards publicizing the construction of the Iowa State Center was particularly commended.

Perhaps Huseby's most lasting and easily recognizable contribution to Iowa State University was the creation of the official University Seal in 1959. Today, the university seal, displaying two intersecting branches below the ISU motto "Science with Practice", can be seen on all official correspondence and is cast into the concrete of Hilton Coliseum.

During his tenure at Iowa State University, Huseby extended his reach beyond the publications department to assist as a founder, lecturer and curator with a new University department that would later become Iowa State University Museums. He was instrumental in inventorying the University's collection of original artistic objects, and his unique expertise made him an asset in the proper identification of $30,000 worth of University prints. His own personal collection of prints was a featured exhibition at the Brunnier Art Museum in the Scheman Building.

Huesby also served in numerous art organizations independent from his profession at Iowa State University. He was president for the Art Directors Association of Iowa and, after his time in office, remained with the organization as a board member. He was also a member of the Ames Society of the Arts, a member of Friends of the Octagon Art Center in Ames, and wrote several articles on prints for Poet and Critic magazine. Outside of the visual arts, Huseby was active in Playmakers, an Ames organization dedicated to reading theatrical plays. He held a position as the Playmakers secretary from 1955 to 1956 and then vice president from 1956 to 1957.

The culmination of Huseby's work with Iowa State University, and art committees throughout Iowa, the University awarded him the Alumni Superior Service Award in the spring of 1982.

Throughout his adult life, Huseby continued with his avid collection of artistic prints and often loaned them to institutions for display, including exhibitions at the Minneapolis Art Institute, the Des Moines Art Center and the Octagon Art Center. In 1971, Huseby donated 51 expressionist prints to the Des Moines Art Center. Today, over 500 prints in the collection of the Des Moines Art Center can be connected to Huseby's collection including etchings by 17th-century printmaker Jacques Callot. Huseby served on the board of directors for the Des Moines Art Center from 1983 to 1992 following his retirement from Iowa State University.

On February 11, 1994, Huseby died of cancer at the Mary Greely Medical Center in Ames, Iowa. He is buried in Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Selected Sources

Iowa State University Publications Office records - John Huseby Papers, RS 5/5/3, Iowa State University Library Special Collections and University Archives.

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