KMUW 89.1FM 2014 Archive

January 8, 2014

Looking Ahead to 2014

January 8, 2014—Look at four new exhibitions opening at the Ulrich Museum of Art.

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It’s the New Year, and with it comes the excitement of change and things to come. Galleries are preparing for their newest shows, but for 2014 the Ulrich Museum is taking the bull by the horns with four new exhibitions opening in January.

In the upstairs Polk/Wilson Gallery, the sublime photographs by Richard Ross will take an unblinking look at the conditions and treatment of American juveniles currently held in detention centers for the show Juvenile In Justice.

In the Amsden Gallery, the noted American painter Fredrick J. Waugh will lead visitors into a fantastical world in his children’s book The Clan of Munes. Waugh wrote and illustrated the book, and the Ulrich will present the complete set of his 28 original drawings held in the museum’s collection.

For the Beren Gallery, we’ll see On Repeat: Selections from the Collection. This navigation though the Ulrich’s permanent collection will consider how various artists use repetition to inform their work, formally and conceptually.

On the Ulrich’s first floor, will be the International Type ThrowDown. Graphic design students compete worldwide for the best lettering design in this tournament of typography.

And across town, the Wichita Art Museum will carry over their not-to-be-missed show, Vital Signs, until January 19. They also have a new curator on the way, so there will be more news to come from WAM in 2014.



‘Wichita Arch’ Is A Living Work Of Art

January 22, 2014—Highlighting the Wichita Arch, a public artwork by artist Andy Goldsworthy.

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Andy Goldsworthy is a British sculptor who travels all over the world to create site-specific sculptures.

He only works with his hands – no man-made tools – and only with natural materials taken directly from the landscape. He creates hauntingly beautiful works with leaves, mud, sticks, stones, ice, snow, and whatever else nature provides.

Goldsworthy is a master of these ever-present materials. But there is a less obvious, but no less masterful use of another component: time.

His art is an ephemeral construction. Sometimes it passes quickly, like when he took red river rocks, ground to a fine powder, and released it over a waterfall.

Other instances, it is a slow passing of time, like Wichita Arch, erected in 2004. The 22-foot-wide, 14-foot-high arch is constructed from thick, rough cuts of Flint Hills limestone. There is no mortar or cement used. Only the weight of the keystone holds this arch in place.

Underneath, he planted a young sapling. This living component means that Goldsworthy’s piece changes from season to season. And as long as the tree grows, this sculpture will never have a final form. It is a living part of the landscape.

But as the sapling grows inevitably closer that keystone, the uncertainty of their eventual meeting tugs at the imagination. Will the tree destroy the heavy, limestone arch? Or will it mold itself around the arch to create a strange, harmonious entity?

Only time can tell.



‘Juvenile’ A Powerful Look at Forgotten Children

February 5, 2014—Review of the photography exhibition Juvenile in Justice at the Ulrich Museum of Art.

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The Ulrich Museum’s exhibition Juvenile in Justice presents the award-winning work of photographer Richard Ross.

His documentary photographs are a stark look at America’s youth who are currently housed in state-run juvenile detention centers. Ross has visited more than 300 of these centers in 31 states, including one in Sedgwick County.

On his visits, Ross conducted interviews with these kids – some as young as 10 years old – before taking their pictures. The subjects’ faces are blurred or obscured because they are minors. These kids are pictured sitting on their pathetically thin beds or curled up in the corner of unforgiving rooms. Excerpts from the interviews accompany the photographs.

While Ross is primarily interested in the juveniles, his photographic eye also catches the authoritarian environments that house them. Some images only feature the architecture. The concrete floors, the dirty pastel colors, speckled linoleum, rows of heavy doors, and surveillance technology are captured with the beauty of Modernist formalism.

Inside a small antechamber in the center of the museum’s gallery are the taped-off measurements of an average room these kids live in. Visitors are invited to walk into the space to feel the confines of such a living environment.

Juvenile in Justice is full of conflicting emotions. In fact, that’s what makes this show powerful. Through truly beautiful photography, Ross has given us access to these forgotten kids in these locked away spaces.



What Happens When People Hurt Our Public Art?

February 19, 2014—Statment after a new, pro-immigration mural was vandalized with racial slurs.

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Wichita is full of amazing public art that gives our city character. It belongs to all of us. And when it is vandalized, it hurts. It hurts emotionally, financially, and it hurts the culture of our city.

Last year, the beloved Troll by artist Connie Ernatt was vandalized. The arm was broken off of this bronze sculpture and it was disheartening to see happened to one of Wichita’s best public artworks.

In Old Town, the public art gets vandalized all the time. The most recent case was last December when the sculpture Hover by Nashville artist Jeremy Jones was pulled to the ground. Seeing images of the six-foot figure lying broken and beaten made this feel like a violent crime.

But the recent vandalism of the immigration mural at 21st and Park is a much different type of desecration. While the mural has now been restored, the intentionality of the racist words, coupled with the similar vandalism of Bluebird Arthouse, reveals a deeply troubling divide in our city.

Yet, this hateful act has become the catalyst for peaceful activism and validates the efforts of artist and activist Armando Minjarez, who organized the mural with high school students last year. It now serves rallying point for the new organization ICT-Army of Artists, also spearheaded by Minjarez.

The mural’s statement “Immigration is Beautiful” affirms our country’s diversity, and now a response has been given. Now it is a conversation. Granted, this is not the best starting place, but it is a start.



Promising ‘Telephone’ Ultimately a Disappointment

March 5, 2014—Review of an experimental, multidisciplinary exhibition at Fisch Haus.

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February’s Final Friday, Fisch Haus hosted a multi-media, interpretative art installation they called Shattered Telephone. The concept is a blend of the grade-school game “Broken Telephone” and the Surrealist poetic technique called “Exquisite Corpse.”

Fisch Haus’ event expanded these ideas to include actors, dancers, artists, musicians, writers, filmmakers, video artists, storytellers, and a stenographer for big, Michael Bay-esque creative explosions.

The first suggestion of the night launched KMUW’s Jedd Beaudoin into an impromptu tale on hot air balloons. Generally, games like Broken Telephone begin with a short, digestible about of information. Beaudoin’s story, however, clocked in at more than 2,000 words, making it feel more like Shattered Selected Shorts.

As the narrative began to flood into the gallery, the rest of the interpreters set it into motion. They were grouped according to their craft, each with their own stage. When their stage was lit, they danced, played and acted until the light turned off. But the random lighting of stages made it unclear what, if anything, the artists were adding, augmenting or taking inspiration from. Games like Broken Telephone rely heavily on given parameters, and there seemed to be no guidance given.

The end narrative typed by KMUW commentator Lael Ewy tallied a mere 217 words. The story went through the entire process and we ended up with less information than what we started with. What began with such promise ended up disjointed and overloaded, so that in the end we lost more than we gained.



Mechanical Sculptures In An Unusual Gallery

April 2, 2014—Exhibition review at Go Away Garage, a space that’s part restoration garage and part gallery space.

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On Commerce Street, you can find a number of art galleries, but there is one that I would even hesitate to call a “gallery.” It’s really a restoration workshop with a space for art up front.

The garage-slash-art space seems an unlikely pairing, but every time I walk into Go Away Garage, I’m impressed by either the quality of craftsmanship in the art or the quality of the presentation. Last Final Friday, I was impressed by both.

For March, they featured the sculptures of Ariana and Billy Powell, who, for this show, call themselves “The Collectic Couple.” They make striking, well-crafted work out of found mechanical parts.

Sometimes the parts are fashioned into a figure, like in Sentinel or Mosquito. Other times, they are abstract constructions, many of which are kinetic.

A real crowd-pleaser is the floor-standing work Tiepoe. It’s a skeleton of a typewriter on long, spindly legs with one red toggle switch. Flip that switch and the whole thing vibrates as if it’s going to shake to pieces – but, with a dangling typeball flailing about, it seems like it already has. The Powells’ art is not without a sense of humor.

Each work is lit with a tight spotlight, which makes the metal gleam in the darkness, creating a dramatic presentation that compels us to look closely. The beautifully crafted wood pedestals are stained a warm honey tone, which gives an earthy counterbalance to the mechanical sculptures resting on top.



Is ‘Free’ Really Free?

April 16, 2014—A look at artist Stephanie Syjuco’s ongoing project FREE TEXTS.

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This is the final weekend for the exhibition FREE TEXTS by Stephanie Syjuco at the Ulrich Museum.

Syjuco is a recent recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship and her solo exhibition proves that the re-conceptualized Ulrich Underground is a perfect space for experimentation and contemporary artistic talent.

Entering the first floor, visitors will find the walls lined, floor-to-ceiling, with flyers, the kind with fringy tabs to be torn off. Each flyer advertises a scholarly text on issues concerning copyright, hacktivism, art markets, cultural theory, intellectual property, and institutional critique. Tear off one of the tabs, and you have a direct URL to these purposefully selected scholarly writings.

This analog style of peer-to-peer sharing is quite satisfying. But after my scholastic tab-pulling binge, I felt a twinge of guilt. Whose work did I just rip off?

The act is deliciously unassuming, but the implications are incredibly complex– and rightfully so. Syjuco has found these texts online, uploaded anonymously and, most likely, illegally.

We live at a moment when information, music, and media fluctuate between open-source culture and fierce copyright protection. The interactive installation frames these questions with no clear-cut answer. And I truly appreciate that.

Syjuco’s FREE TEXTS challenges viewers on their thoughts, assertions, and feelings within the complex balance between open source and ownership, sharing and stealing, and the cost of “free.”



Experiencing ‘The Bridge Club’

April 30, 2014—Highlighting recent performance art events occurring across the city.

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There has been a lot of performance art in Wichita lately: Project Runaway for WSU Shift Space, George Ferrandi with Harvester Arts, and The Bridge Club brought in by the Ulrich Museum.

For those who may not “get” performance art, you are far from alone. But let me offer this brief explanation: Performance artists craft experiences, instead of paintings or sculptures. It is ephemeral, and while there may be photographic documentation, viewing images and experiencing the performance are two separate things.

For The Bridge Club, creating an experience is a powerful way to investigate local histories, stereotypes, expectations and conflicts. The group’s members collaborate to bring projects like The Trailer to Wichita.

The collective uses a vintage camping trailer with a Victorian sitting room interior, complete with chandelier, velvet upholstery and a taxidermied cat, as a mobile installation and performance site. The four performers are uniformly costumed with wigs and outfits that recall the American women of the ‘50s and ‘60s – the kind that Betty Friedan wrote about.

They silently perform choreographed actions with minimal props. Their slow, concentrated movements resemble ritual and create a charged space that seems to transcend reality.

But their mystical plane can be broken as audience members are invited to sit in the trailer or meander through the performing space. Audiences can actually become part of the experience, part of the artwork.

When was the last time a painting did that?



Immerse Yourself in the TYTON

May 4, 2014—Exhibition review of TYTON at the Salina Art Center.

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I recently traveled to the Salina Arts Center for the maiden voyage of the TYTON – an installation by artist Randy Regier and writer and director Gail Lerner. Both led a workshop-in-residence at the Center. Regier and Lerner worked together and collaborated with the community to create a fictional luxury submarine cruise liner called TYTON.

Regier is known for his meticulous hand-built postwar aesthetic and tongue-in-cheek humor. His model of the TYTON submarine is much like a doll house: the submarine is split in two and each half is suspended from the ceiling. It is hung with enough room for viewers to walk in between the two sides.

The model’s rooms are themed and labeled with names like, “Two Sheets to the Wind Club” and the more rowdy “Three Sheets to the Wind Club.” Some of the decadent amenities include an “Endless Vanilla Pudding Trough,” which was also an actual amenity at the opening.

Lerner has written for shows like Ugly Betty and Will & Grace. For this project, she led a workshop where community participants developed the characters onboard the TYTON. Within a few days, they recorded a 27-minute radio play.

The audio sparks a fantastic narrative set to tiki lounge music. At one point, a honeyed female voice invites us to hobnob with famous (fictional) writers like Hunter S. Sampson, who she spots at the bar. The tenor and humor of the radio play blends perfectly with Regier’s artwork, creating a truly immersive experience.



Wichita Art Museum’s Exceptional Glass Collection

May 28, 2014—Preview of Australian Glass Art, American Links from the Museum of Glass with a look at the permanent holdings of glassworks at the Wichita Art Museum.

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Wichita Art Museum’s permanent collection has strong holdings in Early Modernism from the United States, with notable artists such as: Edward Hopper, Arthur Dove, John Singleton Copley and Mary Cassatt. But, did you know it also has an exceptional collection of American glass?

The majority of the glass holdings are Steuben Glass – a pinnacle of American artisanship. Steuben Glass was founded in 1903 and produced high-end decorative glass for over one hundred years, until its closing in 2012.

In its early years, Steuben glass was heavily influenced by Art Nouveau – an art movement known for its sinuous linework and sumptuous organic details. Several of these works were designed by the co-founder and chief designer Frederick C. Carder. He’s credited for developing the Aurene line of iridescent glass – a direct rival to Tiffany – and there are prime examples of his work in the collection.

But it’s not just vintage glassworks on display. They also have contemporary pieces like Kiki Smith’s Tattoo Vase from 2007 and two massive signature pieces by Dale Chihuly which are visitor favorites.

The Wichita Art Museum will open a show this Saturday called Australian Glass Art, American Links and it’s organized by the Museum of Glass. This show boasts about 90 works of stunning color, form, and technical acumen. Playing to the strengths of WAM’s permanent collection, this contemporary glass art show should be popular – and fun.



Celebrating An Art Lover

June 11, 2014—An arts patron receives an exhibition celebrating her continued enthusiasm for the arts after a cancer diagnosis.

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This month the Ulrich Underground honors a beloved member of our community, Ruth Ann Martin, in the exhibition, Fill It to the Brim.

Martin is a fixture at openings, Final Fridays and arts programs. After retiring from teaching, she enveloped herself in the local art scene. But she does more than just attend. She is present and engaged. And her unabashed joy and enthusiasm for the arts through several chemotherapy treatments for ovarian cancer is admirable, to say the least.

Martin’s resolve is an inspiration to many, and, for this exhibition, several artists in our community. With the support of Hatman Jack’s hat shop, each artist has created a unique hat for Martin.

On display are hats that are perfectly wearable, like the one made by Trish VanOsdel. Hers is a black woven sun hat trimmed with black upholstery fringe and two silk scarves with tattered ends pulled through the top. The texture is subtle, but would work beautifully with any outfit.

Other hats are statements. Randy Regier’s transforms a woven sun hat into a Kaiser-like helmet, complete with spike. From the spike dangles a gold chain connected to an open heart-shaped locket on the front.  Inside is a picture of Martin’s husband. Regier’s hat symbolizes Martin as a courageous warrior with the love of her life at the center of her fight.

Fill It to the Brim is a modest, touching exhibition that celebrates the inspirational Martin, and the healing power of art and community.



New Exhibit Details Events of ‘Freedom Summer’

June 25, 2014—Review of an archival exhibition at The Kansas African-American Museum.

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The Kansas African American Museum opened a new show this past weekend commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Summer of 1964.

Their exhibition of the same name looks closely at the summer campaign organized by the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Their goal was to recruit up to 1,000 college students – mostly white students from the North – and send them to Mississippi to help disenfranchised African American citizens register to vote. Mississippi was particularly targeted because less than 7% of registered voters there were African American.

The museum displays a detailed exhibition on this fateful summer. Prominently featured are the photographs of Ted Polumbaum, a photojournalist for Time magazine, and Herbert Randall, who was hired to document Freedom Summer by the organizers.

Each of their documentary photographs is accompanied by several plaques of wall text. Information on volunteer training, civil rights leaders, political reactions, official government documents, press coverage, and more literally form the context around each photo.

Many narratives run through the exhibition, and I was impressed by the amount of comprehensive research that went into tracing the events of the 1964 summer. I was particularly taken with the documentation on the killing of three volunteers by the Ku Klux Klan that starts as an unexplained disappearance and concludes with a conviction 41 years later. Visitors will get a sense of the events as they unfolded, and learn an incredible amount – as I certainly did.



An Art Show That Crosses Borders

July 9, 2014—Exhibition review of Armando Minjarez’s solo exhibition Un Recuerdito at CityArts.

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Artist and activist Armando Minjarez has been busy! He’s the driving force behind the ICT Army of Artists, responsible for the Immigration is Beautiful mural – and its loving restorations after it was defaced.

Minjarez also found the time to create an array of sculptural and installation artwork for his solo exhibition Un Recuerdito (A Small Keepsake). Despite the diminutive in the title, the show takes over the first floor at CityArts.

At the center, a quilted flag titled The Fabric of America hangs from a pillar. Its patchwork marries the flags of Mexico and the United States as it drapes onto the floor like a bridal train. The flag resonates as a personal banner that stitches together a complicated and fragmented love for two nations.

My personal favorite is El Milenio en un Momento. From within a tall, gold frame, thousands of colored confetti dots fill the space and pour over the bottom edge. Given the specific context of this show, the abstract work symbolizes the influx of immigrants crossing the U.S. – Mexico border.

But this work has the potential to speak more broadly. There’s nothing that only ties it to the U.S. – Mexico border. Its conceptual reach is more global, where the dots-as-individuals can be from anywhere and the frame can represent any border. This, in turn, prompts questions, like: Why do people leave their country en masse?

While I wish that Minjarez had taken some pieces slightly further, the show is executed with earnest, thoughtful convictions, and I applaud his courage and honesty.



A Dazzling Spectrum of Floating Color

July 23, 2014—Review of Sen by artist Lisa Solomon, the first artist-in-residence for the Ulrich Museum of Art.

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Working on the installation Sen by artist Lisa Solomon was an all-hands-on-deck affair at the Ulrich Underground. I was one of many on the team and its completion was nothing short of a Herculean effort.

The title, Sen, is the Japanese word for ‘one thousand’. Most literally, this title describes the 1,000 hand-made doilies pinned to the wall. These doilies were made by participants from around the world.

Solomon used the doilies to create a chromatic grid of 100 colors, with each column a single color. Together, the lacy medallions create a dazzling spectrum of floating color. She then ties a thread ball to the bottom doily of each color, creating a physical connection so that the doilies will always know where they came from.

Solomon’s motivation for Sen came after a visit to Kyoto where she explored her Japanese heritage. In a Buddhist temple, she encountered 1,000 identical Buddha statues. Each had a radiating halo behind its head that inspired the shape of the doilies.

Solomon’s community-centered process comes from the intense work used to make Senninbari belts, or Thousand Stitch Belts. During World War II, one thousand women would gather to contribute one stitch to each belt for soldiers preparing to enter the war. This labor resulted in more than just a belt. It was a talisman.

Sen carries the same energy. The installation is pretty– really pretty– and rich with metaphor. As the Ulrich’s first artist-in-residence, Solomon’s work is a good omen.



‘In The Thick Of It’ Is Impressive, But Could Have Been Even More

August 6, 2014—Review of the culminating exhibition of artist Ann Schaefer’s residency for Harvester Arts.

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While Anne Schaefer was here for her two-week stay as artist-in-residence for Harvester Arts, she conquered Shift Space Gallery with her signature stripes and dots for a vibrant installation titled In The Thick of It.

Schaefer’s syncopated rhythms of color and pattern span more than 80 feet. Her painting is methodical, but abrupt changes in her work keep us from getting too comfortable in our expectations.

The majority of this perceptually immersive enterprise adorns a 50-foot section of gallery wall. But when I say “adorns,” this signals a problem. The section was painted on paper, then hung on the wall.

This seems like a small thing, but there is a huge difference between painting directly on a gallery wall and hanging a large painting. Installation art is supposed to fuse with the space directly, seamlessly, and I was irked by this disruption.

Turns out, the paper was a pragmatic issue. Ideally, the paint would have gone directly on the wall, as I discussed with Schaefer at the opening. If there were to be wrinkles and stutters in the paper, she would have preferred to create them digitally as a layering of one more optical game. But that would require more time.

Still, In the Thick of It is impressive and has the good grace not to take itself too seriously. But with limited time and gallery constraints, it feels like just an approximation of what Schaefer is truly capable of.



‘Art Everywhere U.S.’ Brings Iconic Art To Wichita’s Billboards

August 20, 2014—A look at Wichita’s contribution to the nation-wide billboard project Art Everywhere U.S.

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Wichita is currently part of a nationwide project called Art Everywhere U.S., which calls itself “The biggest outdoor art show ever conceived.” Art Everywhere displays images of artwork in outdoor advertising spaces.

In August, billboards, bus shelters and subways across the country are presenting American art from the Whitney Museum, the National Gallery, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum, and the Art Institute of Chicago. These five institutions compiled a list of 100 artworks from their collection and let the public vote for their favorites.

The top 50–plus 8 more chosen by the institutions– make up the final selection. Many are already iconic, like Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks, which received the most votes. Art Everywhere locations are all over town, and in other Kansas towns, too.

The museums want this campaign to draw people to their galleries. Their partner, Outdoor Advertizing Association of America, hopes to revitalize its revenues. And we receive a brief respite from some advertisements in our daily commutes.

It is fine to enjoy this insertion of art into our advertising landscape as long as one thing is clear: we are not looking at the actual artwork. We are looking at digital images of the artwork, which makes this project not “the biggest art show ever conceived,” but the biggest art advertising campaign ever conceived. So let’s enjoy this for what it is, though nothing replaces being in front of the real artwork in real life.



‘Millie’ And ‘Dreamers Awake’ Greet Museum Visitors In Different Ways

September 3, 2014—HIghlighitng to public sculptures in Wichita by artist Tom Otterness.

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Tom Otterness is a New York-based artist from Wichita who has two notable sculptures in town. His Dreamers Awake stands in front of the Wichita Art Museum, and Millipede, or “Millie” as she is lovingly called, is nestled in front of the Ulrich Museum on WSU’s campus.

Both sculptures are the first works that greet visitors as they arrive at each site. Despite being from the same artist, the sculptures have a stark contrast in tone. The Millipede wears shoes, alternating high heels and loafers, symbolizing men and women working together – with the help of a small character nudging Millie in the right direction.

WAM’s Dreamers Awake is an ominous, more contemplative work. A 15-foot nude female figure is visible from the street. She is holding a sickle in her arm, stretched stiffly perpendicular to her weighty body.

As visitors approach on foot – which is a must – they will find a dismembered second figure with a fallen hammer. Arms, hands, legs, head and heart lie in the courtyard while tiny thug-like figures are carting off a footprint and guarding coins. The socialist “dreamers” seem to be waking to a brutal reality with the carrion of capitalism conducting their unsavory business.

The politically charged and somewhat violent work has always set me on edge – in a good way – but it is not what I would consider a warm welcome. Thankfully, the Wichita Art Museum has proposed an ambitious re-design of their public art spaces. I hope Dreamers Awake will find a more suitable context and retire from being the museum’s greeter.



Exhibition Celebrates 60 Years Of Bruce Conner’s Print Works

September 17, 2014—Review of the retrospective Bruce Conner: Somebody Else’s Prints curated by Jodi Throckmorton for the Ulrich Museum of Art.

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The Ulrich Museum’s fall exhibition Bruce Conner: Somebody Else’s Prints is a retrospective that celebrates 60 years of Bruce Conner’s print works. Conner grew up in Wichita and attended the University of Wichita. He settled in San Francisco by 1957, and soon became a key visual artist of the Beat generation.

Conner was an experimental, poetic, and subversive artist who made video art as early as 1958. In this exhibit, his subversion of printmaking traditions – like signing his work with a thumbprint – along with obsessive mark-making–characterize his early years.

Prints, such as #100, are full of organic markings so tight that, from a distance, they look like a fingerprint. His negotiation of razor-thin white space creates hidden mandalas with such intense concentrated energy, they become magnetic.

Later works, like the iconic Bombhead, embrace Photoshop for seamless assemblages that remain interlaced with ideas and experimentations of his early career.

Most remarkably, curator Jodi Throckmorton found slides from his days as a psychedelic lighting designer with the North American Ibis Alchemical Light Company. This is the first time these slides have been displayed since they lit up the stages for bands like the Grateful Dead.

These rare gems can be seen in an object case and digital copies are projected on the gallery floor.

With these slides, Throckmorton contributes to art history by expanding Conner’s body of work. Bruce Conner: Somebody Else’s Prints is one of the most significant exhibitions I’ve seen in Wichita.



The Wichita Art Museum Is Talking To Itself…And We Like What It’s Saying

October 1, 2014—Review of a traveling exhibition of American Art from the Brooklyn Museum of Art.

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The Wichita Art Museum opened its fall exhibition, American Moderns 1910 – 1960: From Georgia O’Keeffe to Norman Rockwell. The show features 57 artworks from the Brooklyn Museum of Art, a museum with a renowned American Art collection. This traveling exhibition summarizes Modernism in the United States by laying out thematic contexts for a variety of painting styles and subject matter.

Throughout this tumultuous time period that includes World War I, the Great Depression, and World War II, artists in this country sought an “American” art identity amidst rapid changes in cities, technology, and society.

In the art world, avant-garde abstraction from Europe was at the forefront and is seen as an influence in this exhibition. The tightly-rendered styles of the Academy were re-tooled or rejected outright. And folk art sought continuities to the past in hopes to find stability among the cultural chaos.

Works by Georgia O’Keeffe, Arthur G. Dove, Stuart Davis, Grandma Moses, and Norman Rockwell – to name a few – are an absolute joy to see in person. But there is something more happening.

The Wichita Art Museum has re-installed all of its galleries to complement and connect with American Moderns. Rich dialogs can be traced throughout the museum. Look for Georgia O’Keeffe in WAM’s Steuben glass collection and Arthur G. Dove’s abstract prints in Hold the Moment downstairs. Meanwhile, the presentation of American salon works in the rotunda gallery shows the art world being left behind as Modernism takes over.

The whole museum is in conversation with itself – which is something rare to enjoy.



How Do We Look at Art When We Look at Art?

October 15, 2014—Proposing a way of looking at art through internal questioning before heading to the label.

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When was the last time you saw an art show? I mean really saw.

Beyond the opening, did you return to the gallery? If you did, then how long do you spend in front of each piece? A 2001 survey conducted at the Metropolitan Museum of Art found that the median time in front of an artwork was 17 seconds. In considering how many hours – if not days, weeks, months, or years – it took to make this artwork, 17 seconds seems grossly unfair.

The typical art viewing goes something like this: look just long enough to get a sense of the work, read the label, check the veracity of the label with the artwork, and then make a binary judgment such as, good/bad or like/dislike, and move on to the next. Going to an exhibition shouldn’t be like art speed dating–a quick once over followed by a hasty conclusion. There is so much more being offered.

I love to look at art till it unravels. My method is Socratic. Why did the artist choose this subject matter? Is there subject matter? What is the artist giving us? What are they withholding? Why? Did the paint come out of the tube that color? How visible are the brushstrokes? What layer of paint went first? What medium is it?

And no cheating by looking at the label! Look at the label last. Do all of your looking first. And always follow your questions because they lay out a natural path into the artwork for only you to explore.



Lindsey’s October Final Friday Picks

October 29, 2014—Selection of top exhibitions and events for October Final Friday.

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If you thought September’s Final Friday was busy, this Final Friday is bursting with exhibitions!

Here are some events that top my list:

In the Douglas Design District, Painter Eric Carbrey will be featured at Bob Schwan Gallery. Carbrey’s formalist paintings are a full of geometric patterns that pulse with urban rhythms; each one takes over 20 hours to make.

On Commerce Street, WSU Shift Space is celebrating Dia del Rollie! This printmaking event will use a steamroller to make large woodblock prints. Prints will be on view in the gallery, and hot-off the press T-shirts and bandanas will also be available.

A few doors down, Diver Studio has a group exhibition called 12 Fingered Hand. It features art from Dustin Parker, John Pirtle, Brad Ruder, Hannah Scott, Sarah and Ian Stewart, among many other talented artists.

In Piccadilly Square, Artworks hosts a farewell exhibition for painter and Professor Emeritus Ron Christ, who retired from WSU School of Art, Design and Creative Industries in May.

Harvester Arts’ visiting artist Alex Spaulding, known for her sound installation and sculpture, has been unleashed in the historic Union Station. Also in the space, WSU Sculpture Professor Barry Badgett will respond to George Ferrandi’s magical visit with an installation of his own, and artist Kevin Mullins has a rejoinder to Anne Schaefer’s patterned installation. Harvester is lettering visitors inside this beaux-arts building to see some exceptional artworks before the developers take over.

Plus, it’s Halloween, so there’s no reason not to get out and have fun.



The Art of Gratitude

November 26, 2014—A look at the local art scene with gratitude for the professionals and organizations that make it all possible.

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In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I would like to share some things for which I’m thankful.

I am thankful for all former Ulrich curator Jodi Throckmorton accomplished in her short time here. She was the force behind a number of excellent shows: Vital Signs, Stephanie Syjuco’s FREE TEXTS, Lisa Solomon’s Sen, and the current Bruce Connor retrospective. She brought us some amazing contemporary art, and her upcoming Evan Roth show at the Ulrich looks promising.

I am thankful for curator Lisa Volpe’s truly beautiful reinstallation of the Wichita Art Museum’s permanent collection. Thank you for bringing forward hidden gems – like that incredible David Salle painting – and for finally giving us some white walls in that second-floor gallery.

I am thankful for everything Armando Minjarez does. His dedicated activism, incredible solo exhibitions, Seed House, ICT Army of Artist, and the first North End Urban Arts festival are just some of the feats he’s accomplished.

I am thankful for Harvester Arts for fresh creativity, critical dialogue, and for sharing our art world with visiting artists. Each of their artists in residence is floored by the warmth and support of our arts community, and that makes me proud.

I am thankful for the time, energy and money Emily Brookover put into Bluebird Arthouse. Though she had to close the doors after only 3 years, the reverberations of that magical place still echo throughout our community.

Our art world is growing into something beautiful with the efforts of these people and so many more, and for that, I am truly thankful.



Fancy Flakeovers and Snow Spa Treatments

December 10, 2014—Featuring the performance art of Linnebur and Miller and their upcoming event.

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Do you know Linnebur & Miller? You should.

This artist duo is comprised of Hallie Linnebur and Meghan Miller. They’re one of the finest examples of avant-garde, contemporary performance art with a soul. Their performances are otherworldly, like their creative powers are channeled through fantastic divination. But their good-natured humor gives the performances warmth and vitality, something beautifully human for audiences to connect with.

Linnebur & Miller have put together window display performances, like the Certified Trans-dimensional Spacio-Temporal Bibliodispatch, as well as inventive, fun photo booths for festivals and other artsy shin-digs. Just last week they had an EGG-istential Crisis at Fisch Haus.

Their popularity as performance artists continues to grow. This Friday, they bring their mystical, magnetic energy to the opening reception of Cabinet of Curiosities at the Vertigo 232 Gallery – formerly called the Shopkeepers Gallery Space.

Curator Heather Powell has selected the young artistic talent: including Jose Alvarado, Emma Ehart, Bernardo Trevizo Jr.–along with two heavier hitters: local artist Mike Miller and Chiyoko Myose.

But in Powell’s curiosity cabinet, Linnebur & Miller are truly the rarest of specimens. The duo will open their Snow Salon, offering Fancy Flakeovers and Snow Spa treatments. The menu of unique services offered are for face, body, hands and hair.

This wintery salon is taking appointments for their one-night event, but walk-ins are also welcome. If this performance is anything like their Double Mystic Manicure Studio for Harvester Arts, then prepare to get transcendentally bedazzled and feel beautiful in a brand new way.