Thursday, September 29, 2016

A Kansas Artist

Birger Sandzen's "The Bridge"
Those of you who follow my blog will recognize the painting at left, for it was previously posted in my blog about the works loaned by the Birger Sandzen Memorial Gallery to the Vernon Filley Art Museum for a wonderful exhibition several months ago.  (You may also remember the blog post about the now collapsed natural bridge near Sun City which many of us remember visiting as a child.)  These blogs can be visited in the blog archives.

Farley's in Lindsborg, KS
My husband and I had intended to visit the Sandzen Gallery in Lindsborg, Kansas since that exhibition, and on a recent beautiful autumn Sunday afternoon, we finally made the trip.  We began our visit with lunch at Farley's, a delightful restaurant in downtown Lindsborg.

The Birger Sandzen Memorial Gallery is located on the left just inside the Bethany College campus gates.  The 1-story Gallery was dedicated in October 1957 and includes not only the work of Sandzen but also many other well-known works by his contemporaries, as well as prints by familiar artists such as Rembrandt and Durer.  Visitors might also be surprised to discover the wonderful Chinese and Japanese collections of the museum.

Sign near entrance to campus with gallery behind sign
Surprisingly, the Sandzen Gallery admission is free; however, like many museums, donations are essential to maintain the facility and carry on the programs.  The special exhibits during our visit were the work of Maurice Bebb, for which the wonderful hard cover catalog was done by Sandzen Curator Cori Sherman North, an exhibit of glass created by native Lindsborg artist Helen Koon Gragert, now living in Oklahoma, and a delightful exhibition of self-portraits by Kansas artists.  Having just done a self-portrait myself, I particularly enjoyed seeing the range of self-portraits displayed--classic, humorous, philosophical, modern--in a variety of media.  You may enjoy them too at the Birger Sandzen Museum website, where the full show catalog with all of the self-portraits may be viewed.
Sandzen home & studio

Birger Sandzen's Studio is only steps from the back door of his former home, and the Gallery is responsible for maintaining the studio.  It was not open when we were there, but we walked around the exterior.  I was charmed by the setting, beautifully landscaped.  Look right, and you can almost picture Sandzen striding down the back steps of his house, eager to paint!

Birger Sandzen's Studio
How fortunate Kansas is to have not only the Gallery, with its impressive collections, but also the studio of Sandzen.  Naturally, the studio represents another financial responsibility for the foundation that supports both the Memorial Gallery and the Studio.

It will not surprise any of you who follow my blog to know that we left with books from the Gallery gift shop and tucked a little more into the donation box to help support the Gallery & Studio.  If you are interested in learning more, you may visit their website.  The Sandzen Gallery has been particularly generous to the Pratt community in loaning the works to the Filley for the "Kansas Ties" exhibition of August 22 through November 30, 2014.  Many people in the Pratt area are collectors, and some of Sandzen's work is currently on display at the Filley Art Museum.

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