Smoky Valley Historical Association Lindsborg, KS 67456

Lindsborg Artists

Birger Sandzén's years in the Smoky Valley span from the time of his arrival in Lindsborg on September 4, 1894, to his death in 1954. Sandzn found great promise in this New Land and dedicated his life as an artist and teacher at Bethany College. His life was shared with his wife Alfrida Leksall Sandzén (1877-1961) and daughter Margaret Sandzén Greenough (1909-1993). Time and his perception ally him with recognized leaders in the introduction of Postimpressionism and Impressionism in America.

Birger Sandzén was born in Blidsberg, Sweden, on February 5, 1871, to Rektor Johan Peter and Clara Sandzén. He had two older brothers; Carl who became a physician in America, and the middle son, Gustaf, who was a well-known pastor in the Lutheran Church of Sweden.

Sandzén is recognized nationally and internationally as a painter who used brilliant colors to express the landscape he admired, for his generosity, humor, and diligence. More than just an artist, Sandzén was a gifted teacher, linguist and translator, musician, and a devoted husband and father.

Despite a prosperous international reputation as an artist - his works have appeared in more than 600 exhibitions in the United States and Europe - the European trained artist chose to live in Lindsborg, Kansas, rather than New York, the heart of the American art world.

Sandzén found his artistic freedom along Kansas rivers, in the mountains of Colorado, and in the Southwest deserts. Where others saw lifeless aridity or uninspiring treeless expanses, he was taught by nature, "the great teacher", to see.

As early as 1902, in letters to Dr. Carl Swensson, president of Bethany College, he dreamed of an art museum in Lindsborg. Sandzén felt that art and music give quality to life. The gallery built in his memory by his daughter Margaret (1909-1993) and son-in-law Charles P. Greenough (1908-1983) is more than 50 years old. It fulfills Sandzén's dream and art legacy.

Sandzén's bridge over time is his phenomenal art and life which is shared by the Birger Sandzén Memorial Gallery. A Swedish-born, Paris-trained modernist, who settled in the center of the American prairie, is an inspiring story.

Birger Sandzen Memorial Gallery, Lindsborg, KS Smoky Valley

Visit the Birger Sandzén Memorial Gallery online:
Birger Sandzén Memorial Gallery

Gröndal the Photographer Lindsborg, KS

(Originally published in the 1991 Svensk Hyllningsfest program booklet.)

Bror Gustaf Grondal:

Focus on Lindsborg

by Nancy B. Peterson

Lindsborg KS Bethany College past presdient
Bethany College President
Dr. Carl Aaron Swensson

Gustaf Gröndal, Lindsborg, KS
Bror Gustaf Grondal

Who would think that a church convention in Round Rock, Texas could play an important role in the history of Lindsborg, Kansas?

At that church convention was Bethany College President, Dr. Carl Aaron Swensson. Also at the convention was a young Swedish-born photographer, Bror Gustaf Grondal. Swensson was so impressed with the young photographer, he invited him to Lindsborg.

Grondal, who was born in Vesterous, Sweden, in 1855, was one of nine children. After his father's death, his mother moved the family to Uppsala where she thought the children might have a better opportunity for an education. Not so, however, for young Bror, who grew restless. His mother brought him a round trip ticket to the United States, and he headed for work in the orange groves of Florida. He was 14 years old when he left Sweden.

Young Grondal worked in the fruit groves and then in a sawmill. While there, he contracted malaria. His doctor suggested that the best cure for the disease might be a sea voyage, so Grndal signed on to work on a clipper ship, sailing to many parts of the world. As a young worker-adventurer, Grndal never liked to sail on the same ship twice. He was fascinated by the sea and changed ships often. He eventually landed inland in Chicago where he worked on the wharf.

While in Chicago, he became interested in photography. He then apprenticed with a photographer in St. Paul, Minnesota. Once he had developed confidence in his skill, he headed for a warmer climate - a Swedish settlement in Round Rock, Texas.

There he met an attractive young photographer named Sarah Noyd who was already in business. The two photographers became friends, then courted and married. Their photographic business was well underway when Carl Aaron Swensson attended a church convention in Round Rock in 1886. Swensson was enthusiastic about the young Swedish photographer and convinced the couple to come to Lindsborg. They agreed to "try it" for one year. That year grew to a lifetime.

Grondals Lindsborg, KS

The Grondals settled into a house in the 400 block of North Main and raised seven children in the small Swedish community. Grondal maintained a studio in Lindsborg from 1887 until 1946 and is remembered fondly by his family, by the community, and through his pictures. His craftsmanship was meticulous; his ability to capture personalities rare.

Grondal developed a special friendship with Dr. Swensson and was an enthusiastic supporter of Bethany College. He was an avid sports fan and also active in local politics. When Presidential candidate Teddy Roosevelt came to Lindsborg, it was Grondal who organized the community supper at the school house for him.

As he settled into family life in Lindsborg, Grondal never forgot the adventures of his youth, often sharing sea stories and sailor's songs with his children and grandchildren, including his granddaughter, Margaret Eddy, who lives just a few doors away from her grandparents' house on North Main. Eddy fondly remembers her grandfather's stories - and her grandmother's reaction - with amusement, happy to report that her grandfather's return ticket was never used.

A tea party for two little girls, Esther and Julia Anderson of Falun, Kansas, and their special friends.

As a professional photographer, Grondal (second from left) enjoyed membership in the Kansas Photographers Society. He was honored by the group for his distinguished contributions.

Eldest daughter, Edith, was the most frequently photographed of his children.

As an experienced world traveller, Grondal shared tales of his travels with his only son, Bror Leonard.

Related Video:
B. G. Grondal, Photographer

Note: Many of the historical photos featured on this web site were taken by Gröndal.

Lester Raymer

Lester Raymer (1907-1991) is remembered for his unique artistic style. He built and worked in the Red Barn Studio, located behind he and his wife Romona's home. This is an excellent example of Raymer's work; a boy's head in the crayon resist style. For more go to: lesterraymer.org