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K-State Today

September 30, 2011

Artistry in action: Kansas artist Birger Sandzén celebrated with documentary screening Oct. 12 at the Beach Museum

By Communications and Marketing

The creator of two initial pieces in Kansas State University's art collection, artist Birger Sandzén, will be the focus of an upcoming documentary screening at K-State's Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art.

Produced by Joshua Hassel, the award-winning documentary "Sandzén: Ecstasy of Color" will be shown at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 12, at the Beach Museum. The film documents the Kansas artist from his Swedish roots to his new homeland and through his many summers spent painting in the Rocky Mountains. The event, co-sponsored by the Beach Museum and Manhattan's Meadowlark Hills Retirement Community, is free and open to the public.

Following the screening, a discussion will be led by Hassel and Clay Myers-Bowman, associate producer of the documentary. Myers-Bowman, vice president of advancement at Meadowlark Hills, is a former director of development at the Birger Sandzénn Memorial Gallery in Lindsborg.

"Birger Sandzén was a frequent visitor to Manhattan and guest at K-State," Myers-Bowman said. "He was good friends with John Helm, a professor emeritus of architecture at K-State. In fact, the first two pieces of art in the K-State art collection were Sandzén oil paintings.

"So I'm very excited to be bringing this new Colorado Public Television documentary, underwritten in part by Meadowlark Hills, about Sandzén to our community," Myers-Bowman said. "It's a wonderful opportunity for admirers of his work -- and there are many of them in Manhattan -- to get a closer glimpse of his life and artistry."

Sandzén, originally from the small Swedish village of Blidsberg, moved to Lindsborg when he was 23 years old after studying art in Stockholm and Paris. He later acquired a teaching job at Bethany College where he became the school's foremost art professor.

Influenced by Postimpressionism and the Swedish National Movement, Sandzén found himself preoccupied by the wide-open spaces and light of the American West. He began creating artwork based on these inspirations that featured mountain and prairie landscapes, forging a link from impressionism to abstraction.

Two of Sandzén's works of art were acquired by K-State in 1928 following his on-campus exhibition. "Still Water" and "Fall in the Mountains" were purchased through the collaboration of community members, faculty and student organizations and presented to K-State as additions to its permanent art collection. In addition to these pieces, 134 of Sandzén's works are currently included in the Beach Museum's collection.

Hassel's "Sandzén: Ecstasy of Color" received the 2010 Colorado Broadcasters Association Award of Excellence for Best Documentary on public television. He collaborated with scholars, collectors and museum curators across the country and in Sweden to produce the historical documentary portrait of the noted artist.

Hassel is also known for his acclaimed public television documentaries "MuseumMuseum: The Kirkland Museum," "Radical Geometry: The New Denver Art Museum," "Allen True West" and “REX RAY: How To Make a Rex Ray."

The Beach Museum of Art is on the southeast corner of the K-State campus at 14th Street and Anderson Avenue. Free visitor parking is available next to the building. Normal museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. The museum is closed Mondays. For more information, call 785-532-7718.