July 27, 2007

July 27, 2007 Final Friday blog:Wichita Art Museum, City Arts, Mead Street, Adobe Home, Fiber Studio, Commerce Gallery (at Go Away Garage), Diver Studio, The Art Syndicate, Delano Mexico Cafe

Dave and I left later than we had hoped to meet Joel at the Wichita Art Museum for their version of a FF exhibit. Dave’s carrying the camera (Fujifilm Finepix F31fd) and aims to take 200 pics. This time, WAM had added a Fisch Haus Retrospective especially for FF – at the last minute. It was such a small exhibit, it took some looking to find, four paintings hardly qualify as an “exhibit” in my mind…

(I am not touching it…)
I was, however, impressed by the black and white photos taken by Eudora Welty and others of her time in a special exhibit. I’m a sucker for narrative photographs that capture a moment in a real life and are able to crystalize something about that person’s “human condition” in inescapable black and white clarity. There was a bit of “portion control” going on at the hors d’ouerves tables. Cabin accompanied the socializing with their brand of melodic rock music.

All this for only $3.00. The only Final Friday location to charge admission, the WAM does open it’s other galleries, though at this time most of the museum’s exhibits are closed and the museum is free into to September anyway.

We drove to Old Town (skipping the trolley this month), and encountered (were waved over by someone who looked vaguely familiar from a distance) a small group of demonstrators suggesting we protect the constitution by impeaching Bush. I recognized Melanie from Newton and was not surprised to hear the organizer was Wichita’s own long-time peace activist Mary Herran who says the group was rather serendipitously named “We the People”.

“President Poopyhead?” I asked where you get this kind of shirt? “On the web.”

City Arts hosted “Gallery XII:Thirty Years of Slaving Over Hot Art”, combining this evening’s exhibit opening with an opportunity to sign up for fall classes.

A cash bar helped lubricate the social side and City Arts stayed open past their usual witching hour until 10 pm. Being a regular FF-goer, many of the artists, if not the actual works, were familiar and I scanned the room, quickly moving on.

The second and third floor hosted works by City Arts students and instructors, including “increminating: Kendra Cremin”. In conversation, Dave commented that her interactive mind map, looked like a mind map of one of our daughter Abra‘s novels. The artist responded that it was, in fact, a mind map of On The Road , combining the novel (read on a trip out west) with her own travel experiences.

I found my favorite works on the third floor:large portrait drawings. Having moved too fast, I can’t argue with Dave whether or not they were computer generated. He says I just didn’t get close enough to see the dots… Tell me it ain’t so!

I wanted to go to Mead Street Gallery specifically to buy one of Kay Ferris‘ smaller fantasy drawings for our daughter and son-in-law (missed birthday/wedding anniversary). What, no shrimp?

I found not one, but a set (3/$25) of three black-and-white live creatures from Kay’s Fantasyart Farm. It was good to hear she’s finding a market for her critters, we think she deserves a wider audience for this stuff.

This is only half of the print…

Abode Home, often a miss for us, was a must-see. Jill Sornson, a young architect, spent a year in India working with Engineering Ministries International. An exciting project was working with a group, still essentially hunter-gatherers, to design a community that would aid their transition to agriculture. Her photographs were enough to make us homesick, especially the ones of Mussoorie! Having spent four years there, I waited, patiently sipping my chai, for a chance to ask where, exactly, she had lived in Mussoorie/where was that brightly-colored door in the picture/had she taken a taxi ride with Manmohan Singh/shopped at Ram Chander’s/’visited Woodstock School ? Wow. She had spent 11 months there, living up in Sister’s Bazaar, walking the chukkars every morning. We had been to several of the places in her photos. Dave said, “I took that photo!”, referring to a photographer’s can’t-miss shot of the Taj Mahal thru an arch. A photo from Varanasi reminded me of sloping streets slippery with manure after a rain, and cows with fungus-deformed hooves causing me to question the religious conviction never to kill a cow if it leads to that level of neglect. She had traveled from Varanasi to Calcutta by train and learned that a sleeping compartment intended for 9 can actually sleep 22 in a pinch. Determined to guard her space (I paid for this berth!), she tacked her sheet to the bunk above to shield herself from the constant staring (hey, she’s a blond American).

We could have talked for hours I’m sure, but others wanted to see her and we wanted to see other art. Onward to Commerce Street.

By now, it was almost 10 o’clock and we couldn’t miss Fiber Studio! The Grisham’s are special folks, Dave greeted us at the door, welcoming us back after missing two months (long bike ride) of FF.

They can usually count on us straggling in at about the last minute and still staying long enough to get the full experience… Met Hesston College English prof Lael Ewy just as we were coming in. When I worked at HC, I once convinced him (at noon) to let me come into his English class (at 1 pm) and spend the hour talking about “The Science of Persuasion” (an article from Scientific American) since they were studying persuasive speech. Lael does www.postmodernvillage.com. I confess, I’m as much about the people as the art,though I actually have an Art degree somewhere back there in the distant past. The exhibit featured four fellows: John Boyd, Wichita, Digital Prints ; Leland Powers, Faculty at Ft. Hay State University, Painting; Gordon Sherman, faculty at Ft. Hays State University, Paintings and Prints; Deloss McGraw, California, Artist, Drawings. I thought the portrait of Aaron was nice, and really liked the melted-heads on those little fighting figures, “dinky guys” according to our friend’s son Andy who has a collection. I thought the melted heads particularly appropriate.

Marilyn had finished a work we had last seen in process and nicely set off a couple of smaller pieces by mounting them on black. For a dear friend’s 50th, we had gotten a set of four of her smaller pieces evocative of some favorite Kansas hikes. I didn’t take time to look this month, but I love just looking at the arrangement of hundreds (thousands?) of cones of thread in colors that take me right to the roadsides and prairie. Dave snapped a new work-in- progress.

Just down the street was another architectural-themed exhibit. Students had re-imagined some areas of Wichita.

I nudged Dave and pointed, indicating he should take a picture of this guy studying the design. Joel grinned and said he was “amused” by this bit of interplay between us. Maybe we do each need a camera (as discussed earlier in the day).

I met John Boldenow, a high-school classmate, fellow NHS thespian, incredible character actor (Scrooge for how many performances?) with a mobile face, collector and now a certified antique/art appraiser. Clearly, a man of many talents.

We also meet Jacob and Kate. Jacob’s a NHS English teacher who knows Sophia (the student from India who lived with us while at Bethel College), and his sister Kate, an art student who knows the current student hanging out at our house who minded the place while we rode (bike) to CA. It’s good to see Newton folks, especially Bethel students, on the crawl!

Commerce Gallery
hosted a graffiti-themed show. We were so late, we missed the music, clearly a vinyl collector at work, and nearly missed the show. As well as a clear artistic vision, a lot of anger is evident in these works. Commerce Gallery (at Go Away Garage) can be counted on to find art that pushes some people’s definition of art and/or tolerance for expression.

This is actually one large painting snapped in two photos.

After commerce street shuts down, there’s not a lot of places left to go. With Tangent Lab and Fisch Haus closed this month, we headed for The Art Syndicate hoping for at least a quick look. As we drove up, a couple pulled away on bikes. Great! Some day, we hope to organize a truckload of bikes coming up from Newton to do the whole thing on two wheels.

A painted “flag” in the window suggested we stop the war, they are having a politically-themed show in two weeks protesting the war and supporting disabled veterans. Can I send my friends from We the People?

Glad to see Shawn’s back to painting the floor with another evolving design. They’ve also taken out a section of wall, creating a larger visually semi-connected space for exhibits. Joel was looking for a copy of Jealousy by Tom Coats. There were other prints available, but not that one. Next time.

Hungry (well, I was), we headed for Delano Mexico Cafe down the street east of the Delano round point. We were too late to be served in the restaurant, but not too late for the music on the patio and a look at the art with a delightful commentary from Mary Villars, whose son owns the restaurant (“What’s New”, Wichita Eagle 2/18/07). Embarrassed by a spot of hot sauce on her blouse, Mary was none-the-less proud of her connection to the artist, Nelson Escalante. Thirty years ago, when the Hispanic Economic Development Association’s funding was cut, the director called Mary and asked if she would buy a large painting for $350. Mary has kept it all these years; formerly framed, it now hangs as an unframed canvas in a larger exhibit of works by Escalante.

Not only does she have this wonderful large painting, she has an original “piano bar” from the old Rendezvous Club where two piano players for Salt and Pepper played with their fisted hands – having no fingers. Go for the stories, if not for the food!

One painting on the wall stands out in the crowd. By it’s theme and execution, obviously not Escalante’s work, it holds a special place in Mary’s heart (and on the wall), reminding her of a childhood trip to Mexico that nearly landed her in a border-post jail because her father hadn’t brought her documents along. The music, a band of two white guys, one black guy and a Hispanic female lead singer played covers from the ’70’s out back on the “patio”. Too loud for me, we moved on, still hungry.

There’s usually a small taco trailer on north Broadway just before 21st. Not there, we kept going till we found one. Soft tacos ($1.62) with hot spiced meat on small corn tortillas, fresh onion, cilantro and lots of grease. Add a jalapeno (Dave) and a Jarritos Tamarind drink ($1.35) to share. Ahh.

So we head for home, it’s already 12:32am.


  1. Joel:

    Great post–I look forward to vicariously experiencing FF while gone. :) One point: I believe “Jealousy” is by Tom Coats (Coates?)

  2. Cookie:

    Thanks Joel, I’ve corrected the name.

  3. Leroy Hershberger:

    Nice blog. I am sorry to have missed commerce gallery and the evening of socializing with you and Joel. I did hit two home runs at softball, so the evening was not all for naught. I look forward to next months ff crawl. Leroy