The legacy of Olof Krans will be celebrated Sunday, November 2 at the Bishop Hill Museum,
2 p.m. to 4 p.m. For the first time in Bishop Hill the recently published book, The Art of Olof Krans: A Prairie Vision, will be available for purchase. Hammer and Pick will be performing American and Swedish folk tunes and a few Civil War songs at 2:30 p.m. Birthday cake, punch and coffee will be served.
Hammer and Pick members are Jon Wagner, Jan Sams and John Heasly. They have been performing in the Galesburg and Bishop Hill areas for nearly 30 years. Wagner is a retired anthropology professor at Knox College and plays the hammered dulcimer, claw-hammered banjo, harmonica and bodhran. Sams, a registered nurse and Kewanee native, plays the string bass, autoharp, and six- and twelve-string guitars. Heasly plays the acoustic guitar. The group has been featured at area festivals and concerts, including an annual appearance at Jordbruksdagarna in Bishop Hill.
This party on the 176th anniversary of Olof Krans’s birth, celebrates the release of a comprehensive survey – or catalogue raisonné – of Krans’ work and his documentation of life in the Bishop Hill Colony. The fully illustrated hardcover book, The Art of Olof Krans: A Prairie Vision, 2014, will be available for purchase for the first time in Bishop Hill. The BHHA will be selling the book at the party. The book features essays on Krans’ legacy by Chicago art historian, Esther Sparks, and Martha Jane Downey, Superintendent of Bishop Hill State Historic Site.
It was published by Peoria Riverfront Museum and sponsored by Illinois folk art collector, Merle H. Glick, with additional funding from the American Folk Art Society and David Connor. Printing was made possible by a grant from the Barbro Osher Pro Suesa Foundation of San Francisco, Calif.
Currently the exhibit, “The Art of Olof Krans: Painter of Bishop Hill” is at the Peoria Riverfront Museum. It will run through Feb. 22, 2015.
Olof Krans was born November 2, 1838 in Salja in Nora Parish, Wesmanland, Sweden. He immigrated to Bishop Hill with his parents and siblings in 1850. Olof was one of the Bishop Hill Colony Ox Boys. In 1861 he joined with other Bishop Hill Colony men mustering into the Union Army in Company D, 57th Illinois Volunteer Infantry. He returned to the area eventually settling in Galva. There he established a painting business. He painted buildings, numerous commercial signs and even stage scenery. He died in Altona January 4, 1916. He is buried in the Galva Cemetery.
This celebration, sponsored by Bishop Hill State Historic Site is free and open to the public. The Bishop Hill Museum is part of Bishop Hill State Historic Site, administered by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. The site is open Thursday-Sunday for free public tours. For additional Krans birthday party information call 309-927-3345.