LINDSBORG — Five new exhibitions comprise the 120th annual Midwest Art Exhibition opening at the Birger Sandzén Memorial Gallery, 401 North First Street in Lindsborg, on Sunday, Jan. 28. 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 from 1:30-4 p.m. on Jan. 28, with gallery talks beginning at 2 p.m.
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.
• Birger Sandzén helped usher in the era of printmaking in Kansas City by showing his prints there as early as 1916. Print Culture in Kansas City includes works by a wide range of printmakers and highlights the work of John deMartelly. Other artists include Sandzén, Ross Braught, and Thomas Hart 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 4. 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.
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.”
• 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. 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.
• 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. 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.
The Sandzén Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and 1-5 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 visit www.Sandzén.org or telephone 785-227-2220.