Birger Sandzén Memorial Gallery
Five exhibitions continue at the Birger Sandzén Memorial Gallery through August 6. The shows include Mexican art from the Moffett Collection; paintings and prints by Doug Osa of Olathe; art by Kelly Yarbrough and Clive Fullagar of Manhattan; and mixed media works by Ellinwood artist Robert Joy, who passed away this past March. The opening reception for the exhibitions will be on Sunday, June 18 from 2:00-4:00pm, with artist talks at 2:30pm.
Drawing on work from the James and Virginia Moffett Collection, Power to the People explores the political and social conditions of early-20th-century Mexico and the dynamic, groundbreaking art that emerged from the Mexican Revolution (1910 – 1920). This period of war and dramatic social upheaval witnessed a flowering of artistic production, particularly in printmaking and graphic arts. Mexico’s long printmaking tradition dates to the late 1500s. Artists such as José Guadalupe Posada, Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, and David Alfaro Siqueiros – icons of Mexican modernism – drew on those traditions and everyday imagery to create new messages of social justice meant to appeal directly to the working classes in the Mexican provinces. The exhibition is curated by Cori Sherman North from the Sandzén Gallery and her husband Bill North of the Clara Hatton Center.
Quiet Perceptions features the art of Kansas native and Olathe resident Doug Osa. Early in his career, he began working directly from both urban and rural landscape settings. His choice of subjects are not so much sought after as they are discovered, sometimes in the most unlikely places. This selective process often takes place through multiple visits to painting locations throughout the seasons and years. His desire is to seek the underlying order and beauty of those things observed and to capture that “sense of place” in those observations. His work is especially appreciated for its meticulous detail and coloration and is included in private, corporate and institutional collections nationwide.
Manhattan, Kansas, artist Kelly Yarbrough's practice is rooted in an ecosystem that includes mixed media drawing, arts administration, and creating meaningful opportunities for humans to engage with their environment. She writes, "My art focuses on the prairie ecosystem and presenting views of place through an ever-expanding library of my lived experiences. The tallgrass prairie is called the most altered landscape on the planet, yet grasslands tell incredible stories of human history and their re-establishment can offer hope for the future of life in the Great Plains. The work in Folkways is new and a detour from the largely abstracted style that I've been working with for the past ten years. I wanted to more directfully (but playfully) represent people, actions, and traditions that I've encountered along the way while living in Kansas. Folkways are defined as learned behaviors, shared by a social group, built up without conscious design but serving as compelling guides of conduct."
Since emigrating from South Africa to Kansas in 1988, most of Clive Fullagar's work has been derived from his love of the Flint Hills. He has been very fortunate to be able to record both the dramatic and subtle changes to the landscape brought about by the seasons, weather, light, and human impact. Sometimes these changes are fleeting, occurring in minutes and requiring a continuous presence in place. Fullagar writes, "Most of the work that I am presenting in Finding Roots: Divisionism Revisited is based on the root systems of trees left stranded on a man-made beach in the Tuttle Cove area near Manhattan. The pieces use mixed media and digital tools to explore Divisionism, a style which Birger Sandzén explored through paint. Divisionism emphasized the separation of color into individual shapes or strokes of pigment to enhance the effect of light. The divergence in our work lies in the means and process by which we achieve luminosity." Whereas much of Sandzén’s work used a panoramic view of the landscape, Fullagar adopts a more microscopic lens to expose the intimate structure of the land.
Robert Joy (1943-2023) was an icon in the Great Bend art scene for many years and developed a dedicated following throughout the region. Although he lived in Ellinwood, he regularly commuted to his workspace at Petr's Frame House and later the Shafer Gallery at Barton Community College. He developed his well-known style with the realization that drawing is a lot like writing, "I hadn’t gone to college to hone my handwriting skills, but it was certainly my own style and I didn’t have to work at anything special to produce it. I just moved my pen on a paper and there it was without the slightest effort. Why couldn’t I just do the same thing in drawing and painting? So I just simply started drawing and all the magic began to happen. My brain, with all its crazy way of seeing things, just locked on to that freedom and off I went." His uniquely framed subject matter ranges from cats and nature to his experiences in the Vietnam War and more (see example above).
The Sandzén Gallery is located at 401 N. First Street in Lindsborg. Hours are 10:00am-5:00pm Tuesday through Saturday, and 1:00pm-5:00pm on Sunday. 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 Gallery's website or phone (785) 227-2220.