In 1894, Birger Sandzén arrived at Bethany College in Lindsborg to teach languages and assist in the art and vocal music departments. He remained at Bethany for the remainder of his career, becoming the principal art instructor in 1899 and retiring in 1946. Throughout this period, and after he retired as Professor Emeritus, he was a prolific painter and print maker until his death in 1954.
Barton Community College’s Shafer Gallery will present an exhibition of 22 Sandzén Nail Prints from the Birger Sandzén Memorial Gallery in Lindsborg and works by the Prairie Print Makers from the Shafer Gallery’s permanent collection. The exhibit opens Sunday, May 22, with a reception from 1-3 p.m. featuring a gallery talk at 1 p.m. by Ron Michael, curator of the Birger Sandzén Memorial Gallery. Reception music will be provided by the Robert Keenan Memorial Music Series.
Included in the exhibit will be the hour-long Colorado Public Television documentary, "Sandzén: Ecstacy of Color." This production received the 2010 Award of Excellence for documentary from the Colorado Broadcasters Association. The Shafer Gallery inclusion is part of the premiere process for this documentary. It will go into PBS distribution for broadcast this fall.
The gallery speaker, Ron Michael, has served as curator of the Sandzén Gallery in Lindsborg since 1997. Throughout this time, he has researched and presented many talks related to Sandzén and other artists in the Gallery’s collection.
He will present an overview of Sandzén’s art, career and achievements, focusing on his development as a printmaker and his role as a charter member of the Kansas-initiated Prairie Print Makers Society. He also will briefly present information related to the members of the Prairie Print Makers, including Sandzén, Herschel Logan, Leo Courtney, Gene Kloss and many others.
During his lifetime, Sandzén completed in excess of 2,600 oil paintings and 500 watercolors. He created 207 lithographs, 94 block prints and 27 dry points, which when the editions are totaled, amount to more than 33,000 prints. In addition, he was a consummate draftsman, filling more than 80 sketchbooks.
Michael has a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Kansas, a master’s degree in library science and information management from Emporia State University, and two bachelor’s degrees from Fort Hays State University.
Prior to working at the Sandzén Gallery, he was a reference librarian for the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, Calif., and taught art at Nemaha Valley High School in Seneca, Kan.
In addition to working as a curator, Michael is an artist who has shown his work in many regional exhibitions and taught art courses at Bethany College in Lindsborg.
All Shafer Gallery exhibits are presented in part by the Kansas Arts Commission, a state agency, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.