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.”