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.
Featured artists: Kathy Besthorn, Alex Browne, Bri Butts, Diana Carbajal, Dallas Dodge, Anthony Dozier, Nick Drake, Angie Evans, Sarah Evans, Kelsy Gossett, Kat Green, Matthew Hilyard, Marissa Kucharek, Vicki Mcilroy, Erick Nkana, Autumn Noire, Dana Palu, Kelly Remacle, Kelly Rundell, Jim Simpson, Hannah Somes, Monica Soutter, Cornell Bell-Steele, Garrett Matthew Swearingen, Jeanne Ward, Sean Christopher Ward, Stephanie Ward, Tasha Wentling, Lindy Duguid Wiese, Jack Wilson and Tara Wilson.
The majority of the exhibitions hosted by the HUE Gallery of Contemporary Art showcase the work of out-of-town artists, but this Final Friday it are hosting a juried art exhibit featuring an impressive collection of Wichita Artists. The exhibition is called Wichita State of Mind and it offers a diverse sampling of the Wichita art scene. The work ranges from non-objective abstraction to abstract expressionism to pop art to figurative painting and everything between. This exhibit has something for everybody.
Q&A with Sean Christopher Ward, co-owner of HUE Gallery of Contemporary Art
What inspired you to open an art gallery?
Lindy and I were in a co-op gallery years ago when Jo Zakas opened Artist Central. We were learning the ropes of exhibiting from her, and we noticed a that widespread “standard” of artwork being displayed around town was consistently the same groups of artists, with limited variation. While exhibiting at the Friends of the Wichita Art Museum Art & Book Fair, we got our first glance at just how wonderful it is to see a plethora of artists from near and far. That’s what inspired our business model for HUE. We wanted to take out of the equation the need to travel to see new and interesting artists, and bring them to us instead.
The majority of the exhibitions at HUE Gallery of Contemporary Art showcase out-of-town artists, why do you think it is important to showcase out-of-town artists in Wichita?
This is best explained in two ways. The first reason behind this is that we wanted to give artists, like ourselves, the ability to learn new styles, processes and details about works that are not typically found in Wichita. Every artist that we bring in, we research and examine from afar, or travel directly to their studios. When we begin a conversation about bringing their work to town, we start to learn what advantages having that artist’s body of work here would bring to the community of artists, as compared to just having open access to their works online. We wanted to give local artists the ability to network with these national artists, much like Harvester Arts successfully does, so that the word of mouth of the local artist’s work might spread throughout the country and not be stuck within the bubble of our city limits. We provide full contact information for every artist we bring in, so that everyone that might enjoy their works and could also have access to ask the artists questions directly. The second reason we did this was because we were tired of constantly having to travel to bigger cities like Kansas City, Santa Fe, Dallas, etc., just to see the “odd” or “uncommon” variations of artwork that would be typically found in contemporary art galleries in larger cities.
What inspired you to host a juried exhibition featuring Wichita artists?Much like my constant desire to research new processes and techniques and bring them to Wichita, the reason we wanted to host a local exhibition like this was because we are not alone in the desire to learn and execute new styles of art from all the galleries and museums around town that have inspired us with their bodies of exhibited works. This exhibition was created to show just how much you can learn from artists right here in your own city, and show the wide variety of styles the artists in this city bring to the table, which has expanded greatly over the years. Wichita is on the cusp of becoming an art destination, if it isn't already. There is a wonderful reason behind that, which is that the artists of Wichita are producing masterful works on such a broad scale that it benefits artists from outside the city and state to come visit and learn from these artists. Just as we have been learning from the artists we bring in from out of state. We are very proud that our city offers such a wide variety of talent.
What qualities do you look for when selecting art for a juried exhibition like “Wichita State of Mind”?
As we explained in the inspiration for this exhibition, the qualities we looked for when selecting the artists was inclusiveness of artists young and old, aspiring artists and master artists. The works had to be presented in a professional manner. They had to peak our interests and not be reproductions of old masters’ works. They had to be uniquely Wichita, which I define as a melting pot of ideas that creates new visions for our fellow peers to enjoy and learn from.
Do you have any tips for artists who are seeking gallery representation or want to exhibit at an art gallery?
I would suggest keeping a booklet, either in mass-printed form or a digital PDF, that showcases your best 4 to 10 artworks, your statement/bio that explains what makes you unique as an artist from your peers, and a page with your established pricing structure so the gallery can tell you what sizes fit the market at the current time. I cannot tell you how many times the works of an artist have been incredible, and the discussion with them is going very well up until the point of knowing their pricing structure. Decisions to host your artwork are so much quicker if we have everything easily accessible in a single document without requiring the gallery to contact you for additional information.
What are some of your favorite places to go in Wichita when entertaining your out-of-town artists?
I am a food lover, so I enjoy showing them my favorite restaurants that I go to on a near-weekly basis, like The Anchor, District Taqueria and Picasso’s. These restaurants bring in some of the best tasting, locally-sourced ingredients that just show how lucky our city is for having access to such a wide variety of menu choices. When I’m not taking them out for food, I take them on a crawl of local breweries. Central Standard and Wichita Brewing Company are my two local favorites, but there are so many more wonderful choices! Now, regarding entertainment, this varies upon the artists’ taste in activities, but I have been truly blessed with being a part of a local electronic music scene, ICT Rave Crew. Any chance I have an opportunity I will take them to a LTD, Karetaker or TimePiece show. It’s a must. If they are into exploring local museums, then a trip to WSU for the Ulrich Museum and the campus sculpture crawl is always on my list. Finally, and this is ultimately the most touristy thing Wichita offers… I make sure to let them see the 9:00 p.m. lighting of the Keeper of the Plains. If we walked there, then it’s a must that we pay our respects to the troll by Connie Ernatt, as well.
Far and Away
"This is one of my paintings in the Wichita State of Mind show. It is called 'Far and Away'. My acrylic paintings focus on color, shape and depth."
Lindy Duguid Wiese
This is an oil painting on canvas that is 24"x36" made primarily with a palette knife. I use a thick application of paint to add depth and dimension to my painting.
"This piece, entitled 'Geode Paradise' is filled with colors from nature, with depth and movement that mimics natural geodes. This piece is layered Acrylic and Resin on wood panel. The glossy finish and bold colors have to be seen in person to truly appreciate."
"This is a still from a video, 'Tick Tock', that will be in the show.This video is one from a series exploring the expectations of womanhood. In this video, specifically, the expectation that women become mothers."
Black Rocks in Spring.
"This piece is titled 'Black Rocks in Spring.' It is typical of many of my pieces that begin with a spark of an idea that is explored further on the canvas—in this case some black paper rock shapes, abstracting natural forms and patterns into a flowing composition. Refining the details into bolder shapes."
Morning On The Patio
“Oil on canvas, 12”x16”. Like in this work, I rarely have a worked-out narrative in mind when I begin painting. It evolves with the paint. It started out kind of like the old nursery rhyme, “Mother Hubbard”, and then evolved into the feelings I have sitting with my wife, in our family room, in the morning, watching wild birds at the feeders, our pets and other critters, just out side our patio door. Every morning and evening we are uplifted and delight in the peaceable kingdom."
"Oil on canvas, 24"x 30". In general 'Melina' represents the body of my work, which is inspired by people, and our spiritual and physical interconnectedness with all creation and how everything transforms and keeps transforming. Personally, 'Melina' represents the transformation of someone close to me. I wanted to capture her strength, perseverance and kindness.
"I consider myself a formalist and as such constantly face the struggle to create compositional balance. The very idea of balance helps give clarity and purpose to my life as an artist. My work is response to, and is an attempt to understand the chaotic world around me. I seek the Rarity of the Profound."
Featured artists: Brad Ruder, Richard Crowson, Rachel Foster, Kelsy Gossett, Christian Taylor, Ernest Vincent Wood III, Jack Wilson, Wade Hampton, Charlotte Martin, John Pirtle, Dane Jones, Ian Blume, Michella Tripoli, Brady Scott, Charles Baughman, Lauren Fitzgerald and Torin Andersen.
This show is literally a Parker’s Pick! I helped pick the artists in the exhibit.
In August, 2016, Emily Brookover, the Artistic Director at CityArts, asked me to help her co-curate an invitational exhibition about food. The first step was selecting a title for the show. I created a list of title ideas and submitted them to Emily. The list was the result of a 15 minute brainstorming session. The list had titles like “Belch and Scratch,” “Smorgasbord” and “Meals On Walls” to name a few. Emily ended up picking “Bibs & Forks.”
The next task was selecting the artists. Artists are often unpredictable creatures. Some artists will decline your invitation. Some artists will ignore your invitation. Some artists will enthusiastically accept your invitation but fail to meet deadlines. You have to be prepared for rejection and flaky behavior. It helps to start with a list of superstar artists that have a history of meeting deadlines and delivering killer work. It also helps to over-invite, knowing that a small percentage of the artists will decline your invite or fail to meet the deadline. With this in mind, Emily and I created a list of 40 potential artists. From that list, Emily selected the 25 artists that were invited to participate in the exhibition. We ended up with 18 artists in the exhibit.
I came up with the idea to structure the show like a 3 course meal. Each artist was assigned one of the 3 courses: Appetizers, Entrée/Main Course, and Dessert. For example, Lauren Fitzgerald was assigned dessert. She created a wonderful series of cut paper collage paintings of Popsicles and ice-cream cones. I thought the 3-course structure would be a fun way to further explore the food theme and would also give the artists a little more structure without making them feel restricted by rules and limitations. Artists don’t like to be told what to do, and I like to give artists the freedom they need to create their best work. The artists did an amazing job. The exhibit is a really wonderful collection of work.
Q&A with Emily Brookover, Artistic Director at CityArts
What inspired you to curate an art exhibition about food and what compelled you to ask me to co-curate the exhibition with you?
I love group shows, I love invitational shows. I was really excited to put one together at CityArts and was inspired to do a food-themed exhibit after seeing a painting done by Manhattan, Kansas artist Ginny Young of a microwave dinner. It’s the most beautiful painting but it made me laugh. The subject matter is so silly and ironic yet she painted it so beautifully and with such a wonderful palette. It made me smile to think of the many ways an artist would approach the concept of food. I really like and look forward to collaborations, so I knew I wanted someone to co-curate this invitational with me. I hadn’t yet had the opportunity to work with you and thought this was a great opportunity to trick you into a project. It totally worked.
Where do you go when you want to fill your belly with some delicious Wichita cuisine?
My current obsession is Noble House. Their macaroni salad is made of magic. And have you tried Dempsey’s Biscuit Co? Good grief.
What is the grossest/weirdest thing you've ever eaten?
I took a survival class in middle school and we had to eat fried snake and turtle. I remember feeling terrible about it, plus it was not particularly tasty. When I was a kid, I also tried a fresh oyster at a country club golf tournament. I ran away and spit it out in the toilet. Of course, the bathroom overflowed. I was less concerned with that and more concerned with the atrocity I had just put in my mouth. I haven’t had one since, and still have nightmares. I wouldn’t say I’m a real adventurous eater, so I’m short on good food stories.
Who is your favorite celebrity chef and why?
My favorite is Iron Chef Cat Cora. She’s a badass.
Are you disappointed we didn’t call the show “Taco Farts”?
Uh, no. I’m good with it.
Do you have any tips for artists who are seeking gallery representation or want to exhibit at an art gallery?
My best advice is to do your research. First, follow the guidelines laid out by the gallery. People are generally, awesome so don’t hesitate to ask questions. But once you understand the process, respect it. Please don’t ever walk into a gallery and start showing someone pictures of your work on your cell phone. Ask them how best to submit your work for consideration and follow their instruction. Choose galleries that show work complimentary to yours. If you are an abstract painter, it’s probably not the best idea to approach a gallery that specializes in mid-century landscape photography. Don’t be afraid to look outside of your community for opportunities. There are so many galleries and art centers across Kansas and the Midwest. Branch out and show wherever you can. and remember that rejection is all part of it. Art is painfully subjective and not everyone is going to be interested in what you do. That’s ok. It really is. Keep going. What’s that sales quote about getting 9 no’s before a yes? I think that’s true and probably pretty generous. It’s all about the hustle. Work through the no’s and find a yes. It’s out there.
What do you enjoy the most about the Wichita Art community and how do you think it can improve?
I love the love. The claws come out on occasion but we, as a community, are really supportive of each other. I love popping on to social media and seeing explosions of celebration when a local artist receives a grant, is featured in a publication or is putting together a new event. We are really good cheerleaders for each other.
I think there are a lot of ways we can improve the art community here, and it starts with funding and opportunity. I won’t delve too deep, but I will say that everyone can help. Buy local and handmade as often as possible. And when you’re in the market for some art, buy from an artist or a gallery rather than a national chain. You’re not only supporting that artist, you are getting a piece of work that no one else in the world will ever have. And, if you think original art is always too expensive, think again. Buying art in Wichita is overwhelmingly affordable and we have artists that make work in every price range imaginable. If you need some tips, just let me know!
Cheese and Crackers
"Oil on canvas, 36"x36". By borrowing from 'The Last Supper', I alluded to the sacrifice that some caregivers go through to feed their children, and created a humorous depiction of the nurturing quality of men."
"It's summer. It's hot outside. Sweat is dripping from your face in the sweltering heat. As if in a daze, you wonder what, if anything, can offer some relief... and then it hits you like a snowball to the face. Ice cream! Ice cream is the one true cure for the summer heat, and everyone likes ice cream. As Joseph Epstein once said, 'Not to like ice cream is to show oneself uninterested in food.'"
"Sitting down for a quality family meal may be considered an old fashioned notion nowadays. Conversation and the sharing of one's day are now replaced by technology at the table or the demands of a busy schedule.
This piece serves as a reminder of a time when we didn't have status updates, we conversed with one another. And when we didn't take pictures of our food. We just ate it."
"Temptation is all around us, but mother nature has given us the perfect treat. Taking a conscious approach to how I fuel my body has positively effected many aspects of my life. Choosing a bowl of fruit over an ice-cream cone is not always easy, but my body says thank you every time. Eat with your heart and you shall reap the rewards!"
"This artwork was inspired by a recent vacation to Jamaica where spiced crayfish were sold at roadside stands. The bright colors and handwritten type were influenced by the buildings and signs found in small fishing villages along the highway. Screen printed in three colors on French Paper."
Ernest Vincent Wood III
"The piece is a mixture of the traditional and the contemporary that celebrates and raises the dignity of the varying elements. Painting food or drink within a still life allows us to enjoy food for it's aesthetic properties not merely it's utility. We may think about what it is to hold it, to feel the weight, the texture. We may appreciate it's color, gaze into deep reds, pale waxy neutrals and cavernous darks. To not be lost in consumption gives us a moment to contemplate the real fullness of the gift."
Summer Portrait (Tempered by Disaster)
"I approached this painting with the goal of creating an unconventional portrait. So it's a portrait of ice cream, but it's also a portrait of the viewer. If the lighting is just right you can catch your own reflection in the painting. The painting is also situated on the ground so as the viewer is looking down at it. It's as if they are participating in the "scene", as if they're the one who just spilt ice cream on the floor."
"Why not put a swiss swirl there? If its already in a landscape, why not make it the size of a vehicle. Well, why not put another pastry in the tundra? How about a tart? Why did I agree to this, again?"