Kim Casebeer (b. 1970) really “gets” the pristine landscape. The plein air painter lives in Manhattan, Kansas, 60 miles northwest of Topeka, and always draws renewed inspiration from the Flint Hills, an area of open ranch lands all around. Every spring she teaches a workshop in these hills, showing her students that, because this scenery is “not grandiose, you have to spend some time and let it speak to you.”
She says, “I think the simplicity of the Kansas landscape has helped me find the essence of other places. I’m able to focus on what’s important in a composition.” Suitably equipped to look, Casebeer now travels widely throughout the American West, painting the landscapes that captivate her with their ever-changing conditions of light and color. Yet home will always be Kansas, where she was born and raised on a fourth-generation family farm.
Having earned her B.F.A. from Kansas State University, Casebeer spent a decade working as a graphic designer and art director, painting only in her spare time. In 2002, she moved into art full-time, continuing her studies with Michael Albrechtsen, Scott Christensen, Albert Handell, W. Scott Jennings, and Matt Smith. She has also borrowed ideas from an array of late-19th-century forerunners, including George Inness, Isaak Levitan, Edgar Payne, Carl Rungius, and John Singer Sargent. From all of these role models, Casebeer has learned to finish plein air sketches on location, and also to translate them, once back in the studio, into larger pictures — a strategy she both enjoys and considers essential to her process of capturing the moment.
Casebeer’s leading inspiration this year has been the great Swedish- American landscapist Birger Sandzén (1871-1954) , who spent much of his career teaching art at Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kansas. The proof of her admiration is on view this summer (July 6-August 17) at the college’s Birger Sandzén Memorial Gallery. Casebeer’s solo show of 35 recent paintings bears the helpful title Painting in Sandzén’s Footsteps: Sandzén’s Routes, My Vision. The artist has indeed spent much time exploring Sandzén’s favorite locations, primarily southwestern
Colorado (including the Garden of the Gods) and the Smoky Hills of Kansas, and also Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park. Accompanying the show will be a small retrospective of Casebeer’s productive 20-year career. And of course highlights from the museum’s permanent collection of Sandzéns.
Casebeer is represented by American Legacy Gallery (Kansas City); Grapevine Gallery (Oklahoma City); Hueys Fine Art (Santa Fe); K. Newby Gallery (Tubac, AZ); Legacy Gallery (Scottsdale, AZ; Jackson, WY; Bozeman, MT); and Strecker-Nelson Gallery (Manhattan, KS).