LINDSBORG— The Birger Sandzén Memorial Gallery will host the film premiere of A New Deal for Public Art in the Free State at 2 p.m. on Saturday. It's focused on Kansas post office murals with a broader look at the relationship between community identity and federally-funded public art during the Great Depression and in contemporary times. Producer/historian Kara Heitz and director/editor Graham Carroll, who make up Clio's Scroll Productions, will attend the screening and lead a discussion about the film. The film was made conjunction with the Sandzén Gallery and funded by a grant from Humanities Kansas.

Throughout the United States, the Treasury Department commissioned over 1,400 pieces of public art for newly-constructed post office buildings between 1934 and 1943. In the state of Kansas, 29 of these murals and other artworks were installed in 26 post offices, as a part of this New Deal arts program. For eight decades, thousands of Kansans have walked past these public works of art – sometimes in appreciation or a nod of familiarity, but oftentimes with little or no acknowledgment. The film explores what these murals tell about Kansas during the Great Depression era and examines how they continue to speak to Kansans today.

The “Section” New Deal arts project was tasked with making art publicly accessible to all Americans – a kind of democratization of art. Communities were often consulted by artists about the artwork subject matter, and in some cases, competitions were held where community members were given direct input into choosing an artist and/or mural subject. Of course, these interactions between artists, the federal government, and local communities did not always run smoothly. Conflicts over Kansas post office murals present a series of historical snapshots that help illuminate American, regional, and Kansas identity during the 1930s and early 1940s.

The Sandzén Gallery is located at 401 North First Street in Lindsborg. There is no charge for the lecture. For further information, please call the Gallery at 785-227-2220 or email fineart@sandzen.org.