The exhibit will continue through the month of April.
"A lot of people are going to be amazed," said gallery proprietor Doug Sharples. "Esther Knutson is a very talented and skilled artist who has managed to keep her talents hidden from the general public, even those who have known her for years."
Knutson is the wife of USD Distinguished Professor Emeritus Wayne S. Knutson, former dean of the College of Fine Arts, among other major roles at USD during a long career.
Esther Knutson received a B.A. degree, cum laude, with a major in art, from Augustana College in 1948, studying under Palmer Eide, Ogden Dalrymple and Eileen Lorange. She taught art for two years at the Mitchell Junior High School before marrying and moving to Vermillion with her husband.
"There was no art vacancy in the Vermillion schools," Knutson said. "From that time, my career vocation became my avocation."
Knutson used her abilities on sets and publicity many summers at the Black Hills Playhouse. She also joined a short-lived local group in the 1960s that drew from life models and later took drawing and painting classes from Oscar Howe and Greek art from Grace Beede. In 1980 she took a drawing course from Daniel Packard.
"I rarely produce works outside of the classroom," she said, "because I usually find other priorities."
The 27 works exhibited at Gayville Hall were selected from sketchbooks that Knutson worked on during the last 10 years while on winter vacations at Mustang Island across the bay from Corpus Christi, TX. There she joins a small group of local and winter Texans at the Art Center of Corpus Christi for three hours every Wednesday.
Members of the group find and hire models for a modest fee, and its members do portraits using various media. Knutson has used pencils, charcoal or pastels for her portraits.
"I usually draw the whole figure first and then quickly make one or two sketches of the model's head. I draw what I see."
Gayville Gallery is open from 5 to 8 p.m. prior to Saturday concerts at Gayville Hall on March 18 and 25, and on April 1 and 22. Or the art can be viewed by appointment. Call (605) 267-2859.
A reception for the artist will be held on Saturday, April 1, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Gayville Hall.