Penny Cent Presentation Given During Hise Museum Meeting

May 10, 2019

The Operations and Collections Committee for the Ella Elizabeth Hise Museum of Regional Art, as well as retired Air Force Colonel William C. Hise, met Thursday, April 18, at Southeastern Illinois College to discuss the grand opening ceremony along with many other matters regarding the museum.

Opening the meeting, Debra Tayes, emeritus curator and research associate of the Illinois State Museum, gave a presentation on her extensive research on artist Penrod Centuriion, more commonly known as Penny Cent.

Illinois historians have examined the story of Penny Cent for years, primarily through his association as the art teacher with the College in the Hills in Herod in 1934 through 1936. After the College closed, Penny Cent moved from Herod to Harrisburg.

Starting in December 1937 and while living in Harrisburg, Penny Cent received monthly stipend support from Philip Guggenheim, founder of the Museum of Non-Objective Art, currently known as the Guggenheim Museum. For the following two years, Penny Cent used his support for art supplies and studio work in exchange for sending his paintings to the Guggenheim Museum in New York City.

In 1940 he left Harrisburg moving to New York City where he went to work at the Museum of Non- Objective Art under the director Hilla Rebay. There are currently six of his paintings in the collection of the Guggenheim Museum.

In 1940 Penny Cent left the employment at the Museum of Non-Objective Art after a falling out with the director Hilla Rebay, but stayed in New York City finding exhibition space for his own work in various galleries. After 1950 it becomes unclear what happened to Penny Cent's career as an abstract artist.

“We truly appreciate Debra coming in to speak with us,” said Hanna Reed, curator of the Ella Elizabeth Hise Museum of Regional Art at SIC. “The information she has and research that she has done regarding Penny Cent is invaluable and so important not only for the museum, but the region.”

Multiple pieces by Penny Cent will be on display during the grand opening ceremony and exhibit for the Ella Elizabeth Hise Museum Friday, Aug. 23, at 10 a.m. The opening exhibit will showcase art from the region dating from the 1930s to today. It will run through Dec. 4.

To learn more about the Ella Elizabeth Hise Museum of Regional Art or how to donate visit or call 618-252-5400 ext. 2536.