Kansas City Project | Artist, Glen Hansen Features Strahm Neon Sign

Kansas City Project | Artist, Glen Hansen Features Strahm Neon Sign

kcprojectcoverStrahmSignSpread Strahm Automation has been honored by inclusion to the art exhibit and companion book “Kansas City Project” by Glen Hansen.

Glen Hansen specializes in art inspired by the architecture of cities like Paris, Prague, and Venice. Now he turns his pencils and brushes on Kansas City for a show featuring over 30 drawings and a half-dozen paintings of local buildings and their architectural and decorative details.

A beautiful depiction of the Strahm neon sign hanging at the corner of our building at 1700 Broadway will be part of the exhibition going on now through September 17, 2013 at the Central Library located at 14 West 10th Street, KCMO.

From the companion book:

Strahm Automation and Mailing
Washington Street, Broadway Boulevard, and 17th Street
George Brinkman, Architect (1920)
Holden, Ferris and Barnes, Architects (1927)
Neville, Sharp and Simon, Architects (1950)
Samuel J. Callahan, Engineer (1956)

The design of the neon sign attached to the building complex that now houses Strahm Automation and Mailing may speak to the past, but what goes on inside the 95,000 square feet of light industrial space is hardly a bygone operation. For one, a 70-foot long laser printer – that’s right, 70 feet – produces 52,000 digital impressions an hour. This and seven other digital printers pump out “hundreds of thousands of sheets a day”. Utility bills, jury notifications, credit union, 401k and pension statements, payroll checks, and invoices just to name a few, are printed and mailed. This year Strahm is celebrating its centennial, but the company hasn’t always been housed at the Crossroads location. Grace V. Strahm started the letter company, using her name, in 1913 in the Graphic Arts Building at 10th and Wyandotte. James Minick, one of Strahm’s employees who started as a delivery boy before the outbreak of World War II, became her partner and later purchased her shares from the family.  Strahm remained in the Graphic Arts building until 1980 when the company moved to three buildings located on 10th and Bank streets.

The company’s present location combines three utilitarian masonry structures, dating from 1920 – 1956. All but one were constructed for the Smith Grieves Company, printers and lithographers, who erected their neon sign, later altered to reflect the name of the current owner. The attached clock still works and, yes, the mail is always sent on time.

When asked “Why Kansas City”, Hensen says. “The cityscape of Kansas City is filled with iconic architecture from the late 19th century to the present day,” he says. “My visual survey highlights historic architecture, but also makes reference to oddities like the T.W.A. Building, Town Topic Hamburgers, and the Strahm sign”

We urge our readers to visit the Central Library to see this wonderful representation of Kansas City.  Admission is free to both the exhibit and the event. RSVP for Hansen’s talk at kclibrary.org or call 816.701.3407. Free parking is available in the Library District Parking Garage at 10th & Baltimore.

Hansen is on the faculty of the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan.

Underwritten by a grant from the Richard J. Stern Foundation for the Arts, Commerce Bank, Trustee.

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