Cairns on the Beach

(Deb) Welcome. back. And Frank of course, is our rock and roll man, our DJ. And of course, lately it’s been more rocks than roll, hasn’t it Frank? (Frank) Rock, rocks, rocks. (Deb) Rocks, he’s our rock man. (Frank) You know, stacking rocks, stacking rocks and people do that. They just stack rocks. And I think, I know our producer here also said, it’s illegal to stack rocks now in Colorado Springs. So, anyway because they got dangerous. (Deb) It’s boulders. (Frank) Because they got rather large. Might fall on ’em. (Deb) They weren’t very good at stacking rocks apparently, I guess. There’s an art to stacking rocks, isn’t there? (Frank) There is an art to stacking rocks and that’s what we’re gonna talk about next. And of course, many Kansans are familiar with the name Stan Herd. Because in Topeka, west of Topeka, out by Security Benefit here, a couple of years ago, Stan did a sculpture in the tall grass there. And of course, it survived for a couple of seasons really. (Deb) Right. (Frank) Now, he doesn’t do crop circles that I know of. Those are aliens. Never the less, he is famous for a lot of his art in fields and working with grains and all of that. But, he also does rocks. (Deb) Bless his heart. (Frank) And he kind of teamed up with a group from K-State. Anyway, I’m kind of getting ahead of things here, but that’s what the story is about next. Stan Herd and his rocks. Some people see a pile of rocks. Some people see grass and dirt. Some people see fields, just fields of corn or wheat. Stan Herd sees art. Throughout the fall 2014 semester, Kansas artist Stan Herd worked with students from the K-State departments of Art and Landscape Architecture and Regional and Community Planning to design and install a temporary outdoor installation. Inspired by the artist’s encounter with stacked rock sculptures in woods near Perry Lake, “Cairns on the Beach” highlights the natural beauty of our region’s geology and pays homage to the long history of built stone structures in Kansas. Herd, who is best known for his work as a crop artist—arranging rocks, dirt and plants into compositions best seen from above—acted as lead artist on this collaboratively designed project. He consulted with masons and carvers in the region to learn stacking techniques and source local stone. The second phase of “Cairns on the Beach” featuring a green planting occurred during the spring 2015 semester. The installation will remain on display through the spring 2017 semester to allow visitors to view the work in a full range of seasons. Todd Johnson assisted on the project. Howard Hahn and Katie Kingery-Page, both associate professors in K-State’s Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional and Community Planning, served as advisors for this project. Participating landscape architecture students are Diane Cocchiara, Beth Krehbiel and Nicholas Mercado. Art students Troy Britt, Hannah Jennings, and Cornelius Hugo also collaborated on the design and installation. This is only one of many outstanding works at the Beach. In the decades since its founding, it has acquired some incredible work and staged some amazing exhibits. In January 1928 K-State dedicated what is now the Hale Library. The building featured a temporary exhibition of over 100 paintings and prints by Birger Sandzén, the Swedish-born painter and professor of art at Bethany College in Lindsborg. The following month students, faculty, and the Manhattan community organized a successful fund raising campaign to acquire two of Sandzén’s large oil paintings. These became the first objects in the K-State art collection. The Friends of the Beach Museum of Art was established to raise funds for the acquisition and care of work in the permanent collection. Check out their website for more information on joining or visiting.