Sisterly city art exchange

Photographs of German Sister City go up at library in time for visit by Eutin, Hiratsuka delegations

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Fifteen years after the launch of Lawrence's Sister Cities exchange program with Eutin, Germany, and Hiratsuka, Japan, the relationships that have been built continue to yield artistic and cultural rewards.

In conjunction with the arrival next week of a delegation of 41 Eutin citizens to Lawrence (along with a roughly equal number of Hiratsuka residents), a showing of photographs by German photographer Uwe Bremse depicting Eutin scenes will be on display for one month at the Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vt.


Richard Gwin/Journal World-Photo

Frank Baron, professor of German at Kansas University, discusses photographs of Lawrence's Sister City Eutin, Germany, that will be on display this month at the Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vt. The photo exhibition coincides with a visit by an Eutin delegation this week.

Several of Bremse's photographs are already on display in the library, and more will be added to the show as the visiting delegations arrive in Lawrence. Also included in the display are a number of photos, taken by people from Hiratsuka, of their city.

The visit of the Eutin and Hiratsuka groups is timed to celebrate 15 years of cooperation between Lawrence and the two overseas cities. Various activities and special events are planned for the visitors, offering them and Lawrence residents many opportunities to interact and build bridges.

"This (photography display) will give people here a sense of what the Eutin community is like. They may have read about this (cultural and academic) connection to Eutin, but it has maybe been abstract. This is a way to really show the beauty of this city, and bring it closer for us," said Frank Baron, professor of German at Kansas University and director of the Max Kade Center for German-American Studies.

It was Baron's idea to have 29 of Bremse's dazzling, color-saturated photos of Eutin brought to Lawrence as a continuation of the cultural exchange between the two cities. Baron also matted and framed the photos to prepare them for exhibit at the library. Bremse's photos are available to purchase for $75 each.

Most of Bremse's Eutin photos will be displayed for one month at the library. Others will be displayed at the Watkins Community Museum of History, 1047 Mass., and Westside Deli & Market, 4931 W. Sixth St., Borders, 700 N.H., and several Lawrence churches also have expressed interest in displaying some of Bremse's photos.

City of Roses

In June, 18 Lawrence citizens -- including Baron -- traveled to Eutin to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Sister Cities program.

To mark the occasion, an exhibit of about 18 pieces by Lawrence artist Nancy Bjorge was placed on display at the Eutin Regional Library. She and her husband, Gary Bjorge, were among the delegation members who traveled to Eutin to attend the formal opening of the exhibit.

Nancy Bjorge works with different shades of colored paper, folding them into intricate patterns and three-dimensional designs. Her work will be on display in the Eutin library through September. Pieces not sold will be returned to Lawrence.

Eutin, according to Baron, is a bucolic city of 17,000 people located north of Hamburg. A castle in Eutin dates to the ninth century, while a church near the town square was built in the 13th century.

The city, which is surrounded by two lakes, is known as "Rosenstadt" -- the city of roses, and the flowers adorn many of the buildings and gardens seen in Bremse's photos. His pictures also show scenes such as the city square, the 13th-century church, a water tower, a special collection library, a park and the local brewery.

"It's a town with a lot of history and cultural traditions. They have a summer outdoor festival and a theater that is sold out for operas and concerts," Baron said.

Ongoing exchanges

Since KU's department of Germanic languages and literatures set up its program of instruction in Eutin in 1966, 660 KU students have been to Eutin.

The high school exchange between Lawrence and Eutin began in 1990, a year after the Sister City agreement was signed. So far, 127 high school students have participated in the exchange program.

Exchanges have taken place in the areas of music, photography, art and business and have involved many professionals, including teachers, bankers, librarians, firemen, police officers and physicians.

Every year, groups undertake some kind of exchange between Lawrence and Eutin. In 2005, the Lawrence Children's Choir with 90 people will go to Eutin. A girls' soccer team also will visit, Baron said.