Sandzén opening Midwest Art Exhibition

Special to the Sentinel
99 by Jim Sherraden, handcolored woodcut

Five new exhibitions comprise the 123rd annual Midwest Art Exhibition, which is open at the Birger Sandzén Memorial Gallery from March 21 to May 23.

The shows include works by Lawrence artists Thomas and Richard Klocke; hand-colored woodcuts by Jim Sherraden of Nashville, Tennessee; works by members of the Sandzén Gallery's show committee; selections from the collection of Dave Woolard of Hays; and mixed media works by Harley Elliott of Salina. Unfortunately, due to the continuing threat of COVID-19, there will not be an opening reception.

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. Today, it represents the longest-running annual art exhibition in Kansas and primarily features works by artists invited by the Sandzén Gallery or from the Gallery's permanent collection.

Brothers Thomas and Richard Klocke have been creating art for most of their lives. They were raised in Green, Kansas, and attended Bethany College in Lindsborg. Thomas graduated with a B.F.A. in 1971 and Richard received a B.A. in 1975. They later attended graduate school, where Thomas earned an M.F.A. from the University of Indiana and Richard an M.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Upon graduation, Thomas left for New York City, where he worked at an off-off-Broadway theater and developed his skills as a playwright in addition to making artwork. He eventually returned to Lawrence and worked for the Kansas Arts Commission.

After graduating from Bethany, Richard spent five years helping to restore McPherson County's Old Mill Museum in Lindsborg. He then attended graduate school in Chicago, and afterward moved to Lawrence, working as an exhibition designer for the Kansas State Historical Society in Topeka and later the Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas.

Thomas will be exhibiting paintings, about which he writes, "My interest in pattern painting has evolved over the years.  From my earliest attempts confining pattern to bands making five-sided shapes and the spaces around them.  I experimented on various found materials like composition board and the shallow basket.  I was also interested in stars, five-sided again, and the patterns they make connecting them."

Richard works outside the boundaries of traditional art and creates art that defy time and classification.

He states, "While all of these pieces –– with cut shapes and impressions –– were made over the last 5-10 years, it is difficult to know if they are separate works or a continuation of the same, whether they are sequential from earliest to latest or the other way around."

From Brayer to Brush: Hand-Colored Prints by Jim Sherraden will feature the artist's woodcut quilt pieces – "I carve my own woodblocks and print them and then cut that paper, mixing and matching, into quilt/tile/textile-like patterns either traditional or those of my own design. Watercolor is applied after the final assembly."

Sherraden grew up in Salina, then went to Nashville in 1977. There he completed his university studies, which included a strong education in printmaking. From this foundation, he managed the letterpress print shop Hatch Show Print, beginning in 1984 until 2013, overseeing its transition from a cultural survivor to a widely recognized graphic design icon and destination for letterpress enthusiasts.

In 2005, Sherraden returned to carving his own woodcuts, continuing the work that first led him to Hatch Show Print over 30 years earlier. Six years later he began creating wooden quilts and then paper quilts the subsequent year. For these works of art, the artist readily cuts up his own printed pieces, mixing and matching them on single and multi-dimensional surfaces.

The show committee is the group responsible for selecting and scheduling exhibitions for the Gallery's calendar. Members of the committee will be displaying examples of their work in the Wallin Room.

The committee is composed of Lindsborg artists Maleta Forsberg, Ron Michael, Elizabeth Liljegren, and Rose Marie Wallen. Additional members are Wayne Conyers of McPherson, Michael Jilg of Hays, and Karla Prickett and Cary Brinegar from Salina. They will exhibit a wide range of media with each demonstrating their unique approach to making work.

Additional members of the committee include the Gallery's curator, Cori Sherman North, and collector Dave Woolard from Hays. Woolard will be exhibiting approximately 50 selections from his collection in the adjacent space. He has been collecting art for several decades and is a strong believer in supporting artists from this region.

Marginalia study for Manuscript St. Andrews Page A by Thomas_Klocke.

Harley Elliott will be exhibiting mixed media pieces from his Allies series. He began creating the series after a serious health crisis in 2014 and writes, "It’s a matter of recognizing allies more so than wanting allies. Creating some is also good because art is a process of discovery. I might discover an ally within myself that I didn’t know I had."

Elliott uses basic materials for creating each work: a 16 by 20-inch illustration board, acrylic paint, Conte crayon, inks, colored pencil and every once in a while a non-traditional medium.

Elliott received his bachelor’s degree from Kansas Wesleyan University in art and English, then earned a master’s degree in painting from Highlands University in Las Vegas, N.M. Early in his career, he worked as a book designer at Syracuse University Press from 1968-1970 and later went on to teach art as an assistant professor at Salina’s Marymount College for 13 years. After Marymount, he served as the education coordinator at the Salina Art Center for over a decade. Today he is an established Kansas visual artist and the author of 13 books, including 11 poetry titles, one children’s book and one memoir.

The Sandzén Gallery is located at 401 North First Street in Lindsborg. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and 1 to 5 p.m. 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 website www.sandzen.org or phone (785) 227-2220.

Detail of artwork by Richard Klocke.