Sandzén Painting Donated Back to Salina

A valuable painting the Salina Public Library chose to sell from its collection will remain in Salina after the buyer has donated it back to the City.

According to Salina Arts & Humanities, a 1921 oil painting by Lindsborg artist  Birger Sandzén was accepted into the City of Salina’s public art  collection by city commissioners during the December the Monday meeting.  

The generous donation was by the Karen Hale Young Family, who acquired  “Smoky River” from a Kansas City, MO auction house after the Salina Public Library decided to part with the painting earlier this year. Just  prior to the October auction, a petition signed by over 400 individuals  emphasized the local importance of retaining the Sandzén paintings and  helped inspire the family to help.  The auction website indicates the painting sold for $120,000. 

The donors had the specific intent of honoring the women who  coordinated the original purchase of the work in 1921 by contributing  the Sandzén to the City’s public art collection managed by Salina Arts  & Humanities, a department of the City of Salina. They also wanted to  recognize the strong commitment to the arts made by the citizens of  Salina. The donors have requested that the painting be publicly  displayed, acknowledging that it may not always reside in the Smoky  Hill Museum. 

Salina Arts & Humanities, responsible for an extensive collection of  publicly accessible art throughout the community, recognizes the  unique challenges posed by the Sandzén painting. Unlike the 425+  works currently in the City’s inventory, this addition requires  heightened levels of insurance, security, and care.  

The 1921 masterpiece, purchased by the library committee in July of  that year, was auctioned 100 years later in “very good original  untouched condition” according to the auction house condition report.  The original purchasers bought the work for $150, making three $50  annual installment payments to the artist. 

“Salina Arts & Humanities is thrilled to be trusted with this important  gift”, commented executive director Brad Anderson. “The Smoky Hill  River was the catalyst for Salina’s founding and having this painting as  a record and reminder of the beauty of the prairie and dedication of  early citizens to the arts is an inspiration for us all.”