It all started on Saturday evening at a reception held at the VAAM Gallery for the guest artists involved in the new mixed media exhibit there. The place was packed, and everyone was having fun eating the marvelous chocolate goodies provided by the VAAM board and conversing as much as they could amidst the din of that crowded space. I noticed an older man looking at my necklace display, so I made my way over and chatted with him for awhile. He identified himself as an artist from Salina, a larger town about 30 miles north of McPherson. He said he had his own studio and participates in the monthly open studios tour in the art district up there, and asked if I'd be interested in exhibiting my jewelry in his gallery. Of course, I jumped at the chance. He ended up buying the necklace and asked me to hold it until he could get me the money. I took it home with me and waited to hear from him.
On Monday morning he called and asked if he could drive down and pick up the necklace. We arranged for him to come to my office. He did, and brought his son who is also an artist. Since there was much better opportunity to chat in my office than there had been in the noisy gallery I asked him about his history, etc. He is a painter and bronze sculptor, and as a young man came to the midwest to study Birger Sandzen, Kansas' answer to the French impressionist movement.
It wasn't until after he left and I looked up his studio website that I discovered to my utter shock that he is Dr. Richard Bergen, the sculptor whose work is atop the Kansas state capitol building (see below), part of memorials, and in many private collections. In other words, he's rather a celebrity in these parts. Obviously an unassuming man since he mentioned not one word to me. My embarrassment was mitigated somewhat in that, although I hadn't recognized his name, I definitely recognized his work.