Thursday, August 2, 2007

Sandzén Gallery Shows

Sandzén galleries opens three new exhibits this week, with works from the permanent collection, Margaret Greenough portraits and the work of Lindsborg's younger artists.

In the North Gallery Ron Michaels has set out another show from the Permanent Collection. Along the West wall he's hung Margaret Greenough's portraits. Both of these exhibits, or ones similar to them, have been up previously. I look forward to these shows, it's like renewing acquaintances with old friends.

Among Greenough's portraits I'm particularly fond of the portraits of Gus Holm. Greenough painted his portrait several times, and the one hanging now is from Gus' middle age. There is something lively and appealing about this old Swede, where my other favorite Holm portrait, one of Gus in his late 60's or early 70's, sitting on a chair on a yellow porch, has a touch of pathos about it.

Then there is Greenough's portrait of Glova Linaweaver, a 10 year old painted in the early 1950's. Glova is sitting on an armchair, her eyes averted to the viewer's right, her young lips pursed, perhaps a little dry. She's struggling to sit quietly for the nice lady who is painting the portraits of all of her family, and it's a difficult task. I look at this 10 year old, and I know lots of little girls like this. Proper and prim and struggling to stay that way.

The pieces from the permanent collection also seem like old friends. I'm particularly drawn to the piece "Advice." I also like Lee Becker's piece in this show, a still life watercolor wholly unlike anything she's doing these days. The show also has one of those rare G. N. Malm paintings that have nothing to do with Kansas or God.

The Malm painting is California redwoods, possibly painted from life, in 1925, just three years before Malm's death. The little canvas gives you a feel of the texture of the tree bark, the smell of the woods, and the sense of the California sunshine.

What really turns my crank, however, are the Henry Varnum Poors in the exhibit.

I can't explain it really. Maybe it is Poor's ability to locate his work in its own era, and give those of us who never knew it a real sense of what it was like to be him, to be in his world, to see the world as he saw it. This show has one of my favorite Varnum Poors from the collection, a self portrait of the artist with his wife.

Probably the most fun and more revelatory exhibit is the "Walking in Sandzén's Footsteps" show. Ten area students took part in the program, which included drawing outdoors, learning principles of composition, practicing Sandzén style painting techniques. The pieces are wonderfully inventive even while they try to imitate the master's technique. I was particularly drawn to the work of the Peterson boys, since I know them, but was just blown away by the spirit that Graci Kejr captured on her canvas. This show is only up through the end of the month, so catch it now.

This year is the fiftieth anniversary of the gallery. The 50th anniversary show opens on September 8th, with a reception on September 9th. The three shows I've mentioned will be up until they're replaced by the anniversary show.

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