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Sam & June Hamra: Evangel receives gift of art by contemporary American masters

Published on Dec 11, 2020 by Paul K. Logsdon

2020-12.08 Sam & June Hamra
Springfield-based entrepreneurs Sam & June Hamra (right) donated paintings to the four area colleges on Dec. 8, 2020. Representing Evangel University is Dr. George Wood, interim president. // PHOTO BY Michael Kolstad


SPRINGFIELD, MO — Evangel University is one of four area universities to receive gifts of art from longtime Springfield residents, Sam and June Hamra, along with William Meek of the Harmon-Meek Gallery, a major art gallery in Naples, Florida.

The public presentation was made Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020, in the lobby of Hamra Enterprises in south Springfield.

The value of the art is reported to be $125,000. Two pieces each will soon be placed in common areas of Missouri State University, Ozark Technical Community College, Drury University and Evangel University.

The gifts are the creation of two contemporary American masters — San Francisco artist Gary Bukovnik (b. 1947-) and Reynier Llanes (b. 1990-), an artist who escaped from Cuba just fourteen years ago on a small boat to become a citizen of the United States and who now resides in Miami, Florida.

This is the second gift of art in six years from the three patrons. The 2014 donations are reportedly valued at $520,000.

2020-12.08 Iris, by Gary Bukovnik
Iris, by San Francisco artist Gary Bukovnik.



The Harmon-Meek Gallery was established in 1964 and is known as the oldest and foremost gallery of American art in the southeastern United States.

Sam and June Hamra are longtime close friends of the William Meek family. They are extremely proud of what these gifts of valuable art paintings have meant to Springfield and other communities and what it provides moving forward.

“Art is a symbol of our civilization and very necessary to present to the generations yet to come through these institutions dedicated to the education of those who strive for additional knowledge,” they said in the public announcement.

Selected works also went to other institutions supported by the Hamras, including the University of Missouri-Columbia where Sam attended; the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y., where June attended; and Ohio Wesleyan University, where their son, Mike, attended.

Hamra Enterprises is a franchisee of more than 140 Wendy’s, Panera Bread, Noodles & Company and Holiday Inn Express locations. Their company headquarters is in Springfield, Missouri, with operating units in nine states; Arkansas, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, Tennessee and Texas.

2020-12.08 Exodus, by Reynier Llanes.
Exodus, by Cuban refuge artist Reynier Llanes.


The 2020 artists

• The first donated piece for Evangel is a watercolor called Iris, painted in 2019 (33” x 19.5”).

According to the patrons, “Gary Bukovnik is famous for his amazing watercolors of floral arrangements some of which are quite large.”

A second book was recently published about Bukovnik’s career illustrating very detailed watercolors of vases of flowers in which the flowers are often shown in apparent motion with the vase tipping over.

The artist has had major exhibitions in at least five large art museums, and his paintings are in more than fifty public collections.

• The second donated piece for Evangel is a coffee medium on paper called Exodus, painted in 2017 (43” x 58”).

While a young art student in Cuba, Reynier Llanes created a new medium using ground up coffee with which he painted like watercolor, all in sepia tones.

“The figurative painter — who has exploded onto the art scene since arriving in Miami — has added other media and now also works in watercolor and oils using the figure primarily,” according to the donors. “His style is somewhat in a surreal motif, although very realistic.”

Llanes’ works are in a dozen art museum collections and his next museum show will be in 2021 at the Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College, in Lakeland.

Sam and June Hamra have selected Reynier Llanes to paint their portrait for the “Sam F. and June Samaha Hamra ’55E Gallery” in the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester in New York.


Art at Evangel

Art students at Evangel University study in the state-of-the-art Lawrence & Alletha Barnett Fine Arts Center, which opened in 2002.

The Art Education degree at Evangel is for the creative art student seeking certification to teach art in elementary, junior high or high school grades. EU’s program meets the Missouri state requirements for certification in Art Education, grades K-12.

Students who desire a well-rounded approach to artistic disciplines may earn a Bachelor of Arts in Art degree. The program requires 33 credits in art and is a good option for a double major.

The department also offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, where students take 58 studio hours, with an emphasis on studio work or graphic design. Both combine art history and appreciation courses with practical expertise in various studio areas.

For additional information, visit Evangel’s Department of Humanities.

Evangel University, which includes the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary (AGTS), is a comprehensive Christian university committed to excellence in educating and equipping students to serve the church and society globally.




SIDEBAR: This story was covered extensively by the area media.

• The Springfield News-Leader (Gannett) had this story —

• The Springfield Business Journal also reported on the story —,71988

• Eric Olsen of the Springfield Business Journal later wrote an editorial about the generous gift —,72051

• The story on KOLR-10 (CBS News) —

• The story on KY3 (NBC News) —