Since I am the creator and caretaker of the Wichita Art Scene Facebook Group, I am often asked which Final Friday events I recommend attending. I'll start by saying that I am NOT a Final Friday expert, and that my recommendations are based on my own personal preferences and tastes. I want to say, "go to all of them", but that would be an impossible task. Having too many awesome Final Friday events is a good problem to have.

Every month I will shine a spotlight on 3 or 4 exhibitions that I recommend seeing. These are the exhibitions that I am most excited to see myself. I should also note that I haven't seen any of these exhibitions yet. My recommendations are based on previous works by the artists or on promotional materials released by the artist or gallery. I encourage all of you to join the Wichita Art Scene Facebook Group to see the full list of Final Friday events happening in Wichita, Kansas.

- Dustin Parker

Newman University


Steckline Gallery
DeMattias Fine Arts Center
3100 W McCormick St
Final Friday, February 24th
5:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Newman University’s Steckline Gallery should always be on your Final Friday Bucket List. They consistently have really amazing exhibitions and Sean Lyman’s exhibit promises to continue that trend. Sean creates beautiful graphite drawings of mundane spaces and objects from ordinary life. The drawings have a dreamlike quality. The viewer is often invited to peer through a window only to see an open door or another window giving the impression that this lonely space continues forever. The compositions invite you to move from one space to the next, but those spaces are dark and empty. The drawings are really incredible.

According to Sean’s artist statement, “This body of work deals with the mundane spaces and objects that we use. These places and things have specific functions or roles in our daily routine, and they are easily overlooked and taken for granted. The intention of this work is to focus on that we are both “present” and “absent” at the same time in the all of the spaces we inhabit.”

Curt Clonts


CityArts - Main Gallery
 334 N Mead St
Final Friday, February 24th
5:30 pm - 9:00 pm

Many of you know Curt Clonts as the Arts Commentator for KMUW’s An Artist Perspective. You should also know that Clonts was also a member of the Famous Dead Artists, an artist co-operative founded in 1993 that heavily influenced the Wichita art scene and played a crucial role in the creation of Final Friday. Without groups like The Famous Dead Artists, The Fisch Haus, Acme Gallery and Gallery XII we probably wouldn’t have Final Friday today. Clonts was also the Artist-In-Residence at Friends University between 2006-2013. I would often visit Clonts in his studio at Friends University and talk shop. In his studio I would see stacks of Monoprints and painted paper awaiting to be cut and pasted onto wood or canvas. I would see colorful compositions inhabited by birds and flowers and leaves. Sometimes I would see funny charcoal drawings of clowns or harmonicas or boys wearing capes. Sometimes the paintings had funny phrases or anecdotes written on them. The art was always full of joy and humor. Those visits to his studio always provided a much needed jolt of inspiration and awe. His show at CityArts is no different. On Friday he will unveil 31 amazing new works. While you are at CityArts you should also check out the other exhibitions in the gallery: Ditch by Conan Y. Fugit, The Rhythm and Power of Landscapes by Pam Hayes and Pulp by Philip H. Nellis

ARTIST Q&A with Curt Clonts

You often talk about the importance of artists collaborating and starting co-operatives. How has being a member of the Famous Dead Artists and the Ginger Rabbits shaped you as an artist? Why should other artists start their own co-operatives?
Becoming a member of The Famous Dead Artists back in the mid 1990's was a really big deal for me!  I was so proud to have been voted in. It was an important step in my career because I was selected by artists who were better than me. They were huge in my book. And they had more experience in exhibiting work than I had. I KNEW I would learn a lot from them, and I certainly did. Being with the Famous Dead Artists introduced me to new ideas and approaches in my painting. They also took me in to my first real attempts at print making, sculpture, multi-media events involving film, animation, live music, lighting, press relations, how to better sell my work, and interaction with future collectors. That's all valuable stuff that I learned at a much quicker rate because I was a part of that group. Plus, it was so much fun to be a part of a family. And, for that time in Wichita, we were rock and roll. We were making shit happen, and we were proud. That was an explosive time of growth for art in this wonderful town. I am so glad I was a part of that. All of that experience was had by me BECAUSE I was a part of a group of like-minded, hard-hitting individuals who just plain dug what they were doing. The energy was electric and very contagious. THIS is why I think it's important for younger artists to form groups. Give themselves a name. They will grow if they work hard, their work will vastly improve, they will create excitement and they will help propel the Wichita scene. I tried it again with The Ginger Rabbits. But as you know, Tanya Tandoc was taken from us, and David Murano chose to split town and live off the grid. So the rabbit done died (so to speak).

You often use cut paper collage and assemblage in your work. What inspired you to begin using collage and why do you continue to use collage as your primary medium?
I got into collage and some assemblage because I loved the work of Kurt Schwitters, Hannah Hoch, Basquiat and others early on. It was also a way to differentiate myself from what the other Famous Dead Artists were doing back in the '90's. I got to a point with collage where I felt like I was cheating when I used pre-printed media and I began to only use my own painted and hand printed cut paper. This direction gave me satisfaction and led to some collaborative work with artists I admire. Charles Baughman and I collaborated using my painted and printed paper and his cutting and pasting techniques. One result of that body of work now resides in the Wichita Art Museum's permanent collection. Around 2013 I wandered back in to almost strictly paint on my surfaces. It's funny though because for my show at City Arts in Wichita in late February and March I have returned to using some pre-printed papers in my new work. So, I guess the circle is complete. However, I still don't think that collage has fully returned as my primary medium as most of my surfaces still involve mostly paint.

Your work is often influenced by children’s art and outsider art. How has your interactions with your grandchildren influenced your work? 
Many artists, including me, have always felt that children are perfect artists, especially before they reach an age where "brilliant" adults begin scolding them for not coloring within the lines. They create with honesty and abandon, and it's all heart. Back when I was a teenager, I remember seeing photos of Robert Kennedy in his office. The photos of Bobby were in LIFE magazine. Here was the Attorney General of the United States and on his office walls were huge, colorful drawings that his young children had made for him. They were all matted and framed and hanging over the fireplace in this majestic space. I remember thinking. "Good Lord, those pieces are SO fresh and gorgeous." The way they were presented lent the work sophistication. I never forgot that. There were lessons in that for me. And now I have four granddaughters—Bela, Olive, Vada, and Hazel and they are great little artists. Hazel's a little young yet, but I actually draw and paint with the other three from time to time. I study their work! I take pictures of their drawings and study the lines! We sometimes do collaborative work together which has actually sold for hundreds of dollars! They, of course, get ALL the money which they use to buy art supplies. And we have their work hanging in our house. Plus, it's all over my studio. It inspires me!

Who or What has been inspiring you lately?
I constantly draw inspiration from Wichita artist and close friend John Ernatt. That guy is an AMAZING painter, sculptor, and carpenter. I hang out with John and just soak up his studio environment. I keep going back and checking out a book called "Artists' Handmade Houses" by Michael Gotkin and Don Freeman. I am blown away by how other artists live. I have fallen in love with Mars Lumograph pencils by Staedtler. Wichita artist Chiyoko Myose's brilliant paintings and installation work has inspired me. I have switched from Scotch to Irish Whiskey and that's inspiring! Wichita Curator and art historian Jim Johnson fascinates and inspires me. I am always reading and studying artists new, old, and dead. Seasonal colors inspire me. Hand made/printed cloth from around the world inspires me. Wichita artist Eugene Stucky's pottery has been inspiring me. Wichita painter William Dickerson's old paintings, and the man's work ethic has been inspirational. Wichita Sculptor and close friend Chris Brunner is inspirational. He's a man's man, likes fire, is a master gardener, takes a drink, and doesn't mind hard work. I will forever be inspired by Cy Twombly. My wife, and her unbelievable kindness and gentleness inspires me.

What albums are you currently listening to in the studio?
I have been revisiting and soaking up EVERYTHING by Stephen Malkmus. Pavement, The Jicks, Silver Jews,—everything. The guy is a genius. The guy is art! Perfect abandon. Malkmus was in my ear for my entire new body of work! Still, I will take a break and listen to Pavorotti, Tom Waits, Thelonius Monk and others. The other day, I found myself crying while listening to Luciano sing the Nessun dorma. And then I listened to Tom Waits sing "On The Nickle" and I cried again. It never fails. Those two pieces always tear me up. Music is a constant with me though. I cannot create anything without it. I can go from Moby Grape to some obscure Japanese artists in a heartbeat.

What is your favorite place to go in Wichita when you need to get your creative juices flowing? 
I love to go to WAM and look at the Arthur Dove and Marsden Hartley paintings (their brushstrokes in particular). I love the Sculpture Collection at the Ulrich and Wichita State. I like to park and watch freight trains! I like to rock hunt in the Flint Hills. I love to cook, so I feel artfully inspired by visiting local restaurants and trying to figure their ingredients. I love to watch ancient movies on TCM. I go to Watermark. I drive this great city and look at buildings and homes. I also get great inspiration by hanging out with my artist friends and collector friends. Their homes are ALWAYS amazing. Somebody should do a book on Wichita artists and art collector's homes because NOBODY else can put together a space like they can.

Wichita Portraits Photographs
Aaron Bowen


617 W Douglas Ave
Final Friday, February 24th
5:00 pm - 10:00 pm

Demo is a locally owned skate shop that happens to sell some really awesome skateboard decks designed by local artists like Ian Stewart and Christopher Trenary. Demo has also been the host of some really fantastic art exhibitions and it is quickly becoming one of my favorite places to visit on Final Friday. This month photographer Aaron Bowen is exhibiting a series called Wichita Portraits. The photos are gothic and melancholic. They are aged with grain and grit and scratches and drips and other imperfections. They convey beauty and sadness in equal measure. It is some of the best work I’ve seen from Aaron and I hope to see more.

Josh Tripoli and Rebekah Lewis


Reuben Saunders Gallery
3215 East Douglas Ave
Final Friday, February 24th
5:30 pm - 9:00 pm

I first met Josh Tripoli when he asked me to participate in his Artless: a Community Art Experience event at CityArts. Artless gave the general public an opportunity to create art with several local artists in a makeshift studio at CityArts. I was amazed by the work that Josh was able to create within that environment. Collaboration is a common element in Josh’s work. Josh has created several murals in partnership with Arts Partners, including a brand new mural he created with the students at Hamilton Middle School. While most artists create art in isolation, Josh is painting murals with kids from Ortiz Elementary. When he works alone, he creates incredible murals such as "Air" located at Douglas Photographic Imaging and "Fire" located on the east-facing wall of Mike's Wine Dive next to Aspen Boutique. His work often reminds me of artists like Paul Gauguin, Pablo Picasso, Alphonse Mucha and Peter Max. 

Rebekah Lewis is a graphic designer and illustrator and her work often exhibits hand drawn typography, flat colors and simplistic line art drawn with bold lines reminiscent of Linoleum Block Prints. 

When Josh Tripoli and Rebekah Lewis combine their mighty creative powers they become LUPOLI. The dynamic duo is responsible for several local murals including the Wichita-themed mural adorning College Hill Deli and a mural titled "Two Olives (and One Ripe Tomato)" at Two Olives. LUPOLI’s latest masterpiece is the Riverfest 2017 poster design which draws inspiration from old pulp movie posters and golden age comic book covers. It also happens to be one of my favorite RiverFest posters.  

The LUPOLI exhibition at Reuben Saunders Gallery will showcase the individual work of Josh Tripoli and Rebekah Lewis and their collaborative efforts as LUPOLI.

ARTIST Q&A with Josh Tripoli

What is your creative process and how does that process change when you collaborate with Rebekah? 
My personal process is mostly autonomous (albeit self-alloyed) and actively works to keep space pristine and intact through chiaroscuro. As such, my personal work tends to take on a life of its own, but when working with Rebekah, that force is reigned-in, softened (often flattened!), and embraces a far greater breadth of activity and visual appeal.   

You often collaborate with other artists, students, or the general public to create art. How does working with other people influence your personal art projects?  
Working with others has completely transformed how I approach my art and life in general. Most importantly, it has prioritized living and expanding love and the golden rule. Embracing and lionizing “error” is a big part of it, as is ever-cultivating patience, flexibility, and understanding; led by example. 

Who or What has been inspiring you lately?
God, Rebekah Lewis, and Spanish artists like Gaudi, Goya, and Picasso.

What albums are you currently listening to in the studio?
I’ve been eagerly awaiting Thundercat’s Drunk, but in the meantime I’ve been listening to a lot of Animal Collective (most recently The Painters EP), The Ink Spots Anthology, D’Angelo’s Black Messiah, Frank Ocean’s Blonde, and Daft Punk’s RAM. 

What is your favorite place to go in Wichita when you need to get your creative juices flowing? 
Rebekah and I really enjoy the Riverwalk, Oak Park, and walking around Sleepy Hollow when we need a break from our creative juices. 

I also noticed you both are doing something for the confluence community center Final Friday. What exactly is going on with that? 
LUPOLI is thrilled to be bringing a new mural to Commerce Street for the Confluence Community Center. At the moment, the mural is just a pencil outline but it is planned as a part of Confluence’s indoor Farmer’s Market and should be completed sometime late March or early April. Confluence is hosting an Open House this Final Friday (at 520 Commerce), so if you’re out and about, stop in and check it out!

ARTIST Q&A with Rebekah Lewis

What is your creative process and how does that process change when you collaborate with Josh? 
My creative process typically starts with a rough sketch and then I scan it into the computer where I create my final piece in illustrator. Projects with Josh use a similar process except I normally have NO IDEA what the final will end up looking like. When I work with Josh, I put a lot of emphasis on the initial research phase and creating mood boards for inspiration so that we get a clear idea of what each person is thinking of for the project. We’re still learning how to work together and continually shaping the process to create new work. 

How does working on commercial illustration and graphic design projects for clients influence your personal art projects? 
Having experience with graphic design and vector graphics, I have a tendency to create artwork that flattens the world around me into the simplest shapes and forms in order to communicate ideas as easily as possible. When I’m not creating on the computer, I try to embrace the human flaws of a piece and often times my work ends up looking like a modern twist on primitive art.

Who or What has been inspiring you lately? 
In no particular order: Frank Mason III, Elizabeth Warren, Toaster Strudels, Pop Music, Dr Pepper, Jim Flora, Kate Bingaman-Burt, Tad Carpenter and Studio Ghibli films. I’ve also been inspired by this quote by President George W. Bush, “‘I am a painter. You may not think I’m a painter; I think I’m a painter.” 

What albums are you currently listening to in the studio? 
1. Coloring Book by Chance the Rapper (80% of the time) 
2. “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” by Daft Punk is probably the LUPOLI theme song. 
3. I also watch the music video for “Sorry” by Justin Bieber at least once a week. That seems odd but the colors/dance moves/and attitude in that music video are 100% my aesthetic.  

What is your favorite place to go in Wichita when you need to get your creative juices flowing?
I’m having a hard time picking one: 
1. Wichita Art Museum – It’s free on Saturdays and they’ve had some great exhibits lately and the sculpture garden is an exquisite addition to the city. There’s a Stuart Davis piece in the permanent collection that I absolutely love. 
2. I go to antique stores that have an array of old signs and products to study branding and lettering from the past. (Hewitt’s Antiques, Old Town Architectural Salvage, Uniquities Home, etc.) 
3. Josh and I frequently walk down by the river. Watching the flames light up in front of the Keeper is one of my favorite activities in Wichita.

"Beauties, Bubbles, and Beasties"
Jenny Wine


Picasso's Pizzeria
621 W Douglas Ave Suite 360
Final Friday, February 24th
6:00 pm - 10:00 pm

Several new Final Friday venues have joined the fray this month, including Artistic Angles, Positive Directions, Inc. (new location), Confluence Community Center and Picasso's Pizzeria. If I were forced to pick only one, I would have to choose Jenny Wine’s exhibit at Picasso's Pizzeria because you can see some really fun paintings of sloths and  grab a slice of delicious Picasso’s Pizza at the same time. Pizza will always tip the scales. But You should try to see ALL of the shows if you can.