Five new exhibitions comprise the 120th annual Midwest Art Exhibition open at the Birger Sandzén Memorial Gallery on Sunday, January 28, 2018. The Midwest Art Exhibition was founded in 1899 by three local Lindsborg artists – Birger Sandzén, Carl Lotave, and G. N. Malm – as a complement to the annual Messiah Festival held at Bethany College. It represents the longest running annual art exhibition in Kansas.
On display through April 22 are Print Culture in Kansas City, works from the Moffett collection; encaustic and fiber works by Ellie Murphy of New York City; paintings by Barry Fitzgerald of Lawrence; plein-air paintings by the Western Kansas group In the Open Air; and works by students attending Smoky Valley High School in Lindsborg. The reception for the exhibitions will be on Sunday, January 28, 2018, from 1:30 to 4 p.m. with gallery talks beginning at 2:00.
Birger Sandzén helped usher in the era of printmaking in Kansas City by showing his prints there as early as 1916. In the 1930s and 1940s, printmaking enjoyed popularity across the nation, and Kansas City proved no exception. The Kansas City Art Institute’s curriculum first added print courses in lithography under Ross Braught from 1931 through 1935. Thomas Hart Benton was hired as his replacement and he brought printmaker John deMartelly on to the faculty full-time to encourage students to give lithography, blockprinting, and intaglio mediums a try, as well as participate in the New York City-based Associate American Artists. Print Culture in Kansas City includes works by a wide range of Kansas City printmakers and highlights the work of deMartelly. Other artists include Sandzén, Braught, and Benton, along with deMartelly’s students Janet Turner, Jackson Lee Nesbitt, Duard Marshall, and William Wind McKim. This exhibition from the Moffett collection is curated by Cori Sherman North.
Artist Ellie Murphy was born in Illinois and moved to Lindsborg at age four. After graduating from high school, she received a BFA in sculpture from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. Following a period of extensive travel through Europe and the Middle East, she earned an MFA in sculpture from Yale and now lives in Queens, New York. She has exhibited her work in many group and solo shows throughout the United States including Franconia Sculpture Park in Minnesota and the Brooklyn Public Library.
Murphy writes about her exhibition Yarn and Wax, “I like exploring the relationship of personal and cultural nostalgia in subject matter, material and method. My work straddles the line between childhood and adulthood while questioning the borders of fine art and traditional craft forms. In these encaustic and fiber pieces I am trying to make a physical picture of the rhythm and repetition at the heart of ordinary life. My art also combines references to doll hair, crafts, folk motifs and Americana from my 1970’s childhood in Kansas. I see interdependence between the multiplicities of cultures in our world and make sculpture as a way of recognizing and playing with the unintended and humorous connections between them.”
Barry Fitzgerald is a multi-disciplinary illustrator, artist, and visual communicator who loves the challenge of making images that engage intellectually, emotionally, and aesthetically. He enjoys problem solving, collaborating with others, and working on commissions.
After a previous career as a graphic designer in Washington, DC, Fitzgerald earned an MFA in illustration at the State University of New York in Buffalo, where he studied under illustrator Alan E. Cober. Upon graduation, he was hired by the Detroit News to work as a staff artist. Since 1993, Fitzgerald has been a professor of illustration at the University of Kansas. His images have been in over 75 juried and invitational exhibitions, including shows in New York, Los Angeles, and London.
With the Wind is an exhibition featuring three Kansas artists from Hays and Russell: Matthew Miller, Nicole Thibodeau, and Shannon Trevethan. Collectively known as In the Open Air, they were brought together by their interest in plein-air painting. En plein air is the French term for “in the open air” and specifically relates to the act of painting in nature. By leaving the confines of the studio, these artists are directly experiencing the natural light and atmosphere represented in their paintings. The group is committed to the practice of observational painting on location, with each contributing a unique impression of their chosen landscape.
Art by students from Smoky Valley High School round out the Midwest Art Exhibition. They will be showing works in several media selected by instructor Gretchen Elliot. This is the second year the students have exhibited their works during the annual exhibition.
The Sandzén Gallery is located at 401 North First Street in Lindsborg. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday. The Gallery is closed on Mondays. Admission is free, with donations appreciated. Docent tours for groups are available by two-week advance appointment. For more information about Birger Sandzén, the Gallery, and these exhibitions visit the website www. Sandzén.org or telephone (785) 227-2220.