The Birger SandzÚn Memorial Gallery cordially welcomes you to enjoy the Easter season’s 115th Midwest Art Exhibition, which will open March 5 and continue through April 21, with a closing reception from 2 to 4 p.m. on the April 21.

The Birger Sandzén Memorial Gallery cordially welcomes you to enjoy the Easter season’s 115th Midwest Art Exhibition, which will open March 5 and continue through April 21, with a closing reception from 2 to 4 p.m. on the April 21.

The Midwest Art Exhibition, 115 years old this spring, was founded by three local Lindsborg artists, Carl G. Lotave, Gustav Nathaniel Malm, and Birger Sandzén. From conversation of the three in 1897 came the idea for an art exhibition to compliment the annual Messiah Festival at Bethany College. Hasty preparations made possible an exhibition in a classroom in the Old Main building on the campus.

Throughout the years art by local and regional guest artists have been part of the exhibition. Nationally recognized artists also have been featured. From 1913 to 1946, three organizations founded by Birger Sandzén — the Smoky Hill Art Club, the Prairie Print Makers Society, and the Prairie Water Color Painters — participated in many of the annual exhibitions.

So began a tradition, which represents the oldest annual art exhibition in the state of Kansas and the first annual Swedish-American art exhibition in America. The location for the exhibition changed from Old Main to the art department in the Swedish Pavilion, and finally to the Sandzén Gallery when it opened in 1957. Each spring welcomes a new Midwest Art Exhibition.

This year’s exhibition will present three guest artists and a special show of paintings by Oscar Brousse Jacobson (1882-1966), a former Lindsborg resident and student of Birger Sandzén. Guest artists are David D. DeArmond of Merriam; Margie Kuhn of Lawrence; and Frank Nichols of Hays. Oil paintings loaned from a private collections form Western Light, the Oscar Jacobson special exhibition.

Oscar Brousse Jacobson

Oscar Brousse Jacobson (1882-1966) emigrated to Lindsborg from Sweden in 1890. He studied at Bethany College where he received a bachelor’s degree in 1908. He continued his studies at the Louvre in Paris, in Sweden and Denmark. In 1916 he received a master of fine arts degree at Yale University and in 1941 a doctorate of fine arts degree from Bethany College. He served as director of the School of Art at the University of Oklahoma from 1915 until 1954. He and his wife, Jeannne d’Ucel, had three children.

Jacobson’s name is synonymous with early-20th-century art in Oklahoma. He tirelessly promoted all arts to the young state. One genre, traditional Plains Indian Art, is now inexorably bound to him and to the University of Oklahoma. Because Jacobson held Indian people in good regard and treated them with respect, he became their champion and mentor. In the late 1920s he and Professor Edith Mahier, also of the University Art School worked with a small group of five Kiowa men and briefly with one Kiowa woman. These artists were known as the “Kiowa Five” and their style became world famous and have always been associated with Oscar B. Jacobson. In addition, he founded the Association of Oklahoma Artists and formally advised the Works Progress Administration’s Federal Art Project for Oklahoma in the 1930s.

A prolific painter of Southwestern landscapes, Jacobson loved to paint the mountains near his summer home in Colorado. Each spring after the University’s commencement exercises were completed, the artist would load his family into the car and head west, where he would “do nothing but paint things people haven’t messed up.”

His work was exhibited throughout the United States and Europe, where he won numerous awards, including a Gold Medal at the 1931 Mid-Western Exhibition at the Kansas City Art Institute Invitational. He was made an honorary chief of the Kiowa tribe and was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 1949. He lectured at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, at the Chicago Art Institute, and at more than fifty universities and colleges. His works are held by, among others, Woolaroc Museum, the Jacobson Gallery in Norman, the Oklahoma City Museum of Art and the Fred Jones, Jr. Museum of Art in Norman.

David D. DeArmond

A Kansan Paints Yorkshire” features ink and wash paintings of England by David D. DeArmond. DeArmond has lived in Kansas for 22 years. He moved from Colorado to Johnson County where he married a native Kansan. He started his interest in art in a New Jersey grade school finding easy A’s which kept him interested in the creative side of life. He took art, drafting, metal shop sciences, history ... anything that seemed likely to give him grades that would offset a disinterest in math.

While serving in the Air Force in Florida, he frequently painted outdoors and was encouraged by a local businessman who gave him the key to his sign shop that he used as a studio for several years. Upon discharge he attended the Art Students League School of New York. He had the legendary Howard Tafton as his teacher. To this day he refers to what Tafton told him about composition and color.

DeArmond has attended numerous workshops and is a signature member of half a dozen watercolor associations including the Kansas Watercolor Society. He loves to paint outdoors and has created at least four pieces in one of the one hundred and five counties of Kansas.

His series for the exhibition of Yorkshire paintings came about from his interest in line drawings and ink work. In 2005 David and his wife found themselves in the Yorkshire Dales of England. They were there with an international group of artists he had met on the Internet. He painted many oils and watercolors. When the group reformed two years later, they returned, and he worked in watercolors and pen and wash.

DeArmond experimented with colored inks and even airbrushing but the work in his gallery show is black ink and transparent watercolors. The resulting art is time consuming and at times tedious but as he says, “The reward is creating something that well describes the predominately old-stone Yorkshire scene.”

Margie Kuhn

Lawrence artist Margie Kuhn links the name of her show of drawings and paintings to a series of paintings by Thomas Cole called The Course of the Empire. Cole’s paintings examine the historic cycle in which nations rise and fall. Margie became intrigued by the direction of today’s society in relation to what Cole suggested in the 1800s. Having spent years documenting the artifacts of contemporary society through drawings and paintings, she started using her images of objects — toys, tools, postcards and leaves to understand trends and attitudes in today’s culture.

“My current body of work in this exhibition evolves around the idea of cultural significance and meaning of material culture,” Kuhn said. “One series of drawings looks at an Albrecht Dürer print to question the causes of civilization’s decline. Another series looks at the proportions of man, which was a subject of Old Master artists attempts to understand the ideal relationship of anatomical parts and thus be able to represent beauty.”

In a third series she examines ideas about contemporary tools as improvements in technology. Spoons, forks, peelers and ice cream scoops sit on a field of drawings — often copied from the Renaissance but also her own. These works become a study of how time has changed our common tools. She observes a disproportionate number of food utensils, particularly ice cream scoops.

Margie Kuhn grew up in Lawrence and attended the University of Kansas and the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Wash. She earned a degree in scientific illustration and work as a freelance science illustrator for a few years before beginning teaching art at area art centers and museums. This experience inspired her to return to school at the University of Kansas where she earned a masters of art museum education and later a master of fine arts in painting. Kuhn taught at Baker University and at Washburn University and was the Education Coordinator at the Mulvane Art Museum in Topeka before joining the University of Kansas Design Department in 2000.

Frank Nichol

Frank Nichol’s work for the past 10 years has been in acrylic and ink on paper. His exhibition show Frank Nichols Recent Work reflects images from his imagination. His images do not allow for preconceived planning. He says, “I prefer to work with content that is accessible to any intelligent person and generally avoid expression intended for only those with an academic degree in art. I am most happy when my work is enjoyed by a broad audience.”

Frank Nichols was a professor at Fort Hays State University until retirement in 1999. He considers himself to be an amateur in the classical sense of the term. He works simply expressing himself as an element of the universe. He finds reward in the artistic process, in the time absorbed in the doing and hopes his works will be enjoyed by the viewer.

The Sandzén Gallery will be open each afternoon of Holy Week from 1 to 5 p.m. and 1 to 7 p.m. Good Friday afternoon. Regular hours are from 1 to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday. There is no admission charge. Tours for groups by gallery docents are available by advance appointment with the gallery (785) 227-2220. The gallery is at 401 N. First St. in Lindsborg.