August 31, 2007

August 31, 2007 Final Friday blog: Mead Street Gallery, Milan Studio, Gallery XII, Lawrence Photo, Fiber Studio, Diver Studio, Fisch Haus, Shift Space, City Arts, Tangent Lab.

The usual suspects, Leroy and Elena weren’t available this time, so we headed out on our own. Parked in one of the Old Town lots, we walked first to Mead Street Gallery. As usual, there was wine and chocolate at the door, though the shrimp in the back was already gone (we eat light before coming to the crawl with expectations of grazing as we go). Gary Ozias, a guest artist, said he lived near the Nebraska border and painted typical scenery for that area. He had brought 16 works, oil or pastel, and had already sold two by the time we got there around seven.

I thought their front room looked less kitschy with more paintings and less other stuff. Curtis Newby, another of my favorites had several pieces out front, as did Vernon McGee. I had not recognized Vernon’s work as photography. He begins with an idea that’s as much a starting texture as anything else – often clouds – and “then you just beat it to death”. His two blue/red/black geometric themed pieces were a little hard to see in the corner because of glare on the glass.

We wanted to tell Kay Ferris our daughter’s reaction to the fantasyart farm prints we had sent to Minneapolis. It’s great to see the attention this stuff is, finally, getting. Having visited with Kay often (we are thrilled to be one of her first fantasyart customers) it was fun to hear her talk about teaching children to draw using her techniques. Kay says she changed her way of thinking, and, that it drives traditional artists crazy. She does the traditional stuff too, but this is where her heart is – a rather unexpected style from someone who looks like she could be your kids’ favorite grandma. Dave picked up one of her works and suggested it would make a great retirement gift for an old boss… We both like the more detailed works in black and white, though a couple of her more whimsical creatures are her best sellers.

Transportation options were out in force: horse and carriage, trolley, bicycle, pedicab and foot. Also saw this great vintage sidecar motorcycle.

Walked down Douglas towards Gallery XII and first popped into to Milan Gallery next door. Sarah Heath’s “New Works” reminded us of luminaries in India, clay lamps that looked liked pots with lots of carved out openings, made to hold candles. I went looking for Sarah who had just popped out with a former teacher/mentor for a smoke, to ask about her style.

I found Lisa taking a break on her first Final Friday. Although studying finance at WSU, she’s taking a beginning watercolor class and her instructor encouraged students to go on the gallery crawl. Beside Lisa was Sarah.

The pieces were inspired by mehendi patterns, designs painted in henna on women’s hands and feet in India that turn reddish-brown and last for weeks. Sarah cited Hanna Jubran as an influence, she had gone to an iron conference and met him there. Her mold material for these works was bonded sand.

I like her spooning hammers, though I’m not sure of the symbolism…

Gallery XII is always nice, very classy. Live music took advantage of the stained glass dome (known for making your conversations less private than you think…).

We popped across the street to Lawrence photo (and got that earlier shot of Gallery XII/Milan) to see what turned out to be an end-of-the-summer show, with everything for sale. Some pieces were familiar. I liked Mike Huttmacher’s “downtown 1987” balloon-headed dad

and several of David Hornback’s photos, most likely taken in the late ’70’s/early ’80’s even though my favorite looked like a vintage print from the 1930’s or ’40’s. None of the series had labels. I cropped this one to eliminate glare and some of the effect of hanging low beneath the windows which caused distortion in our photo.

We were running late and not going to make all our usual stops, decided to skip Delano even though we always enjoy seeing what Shawn’s doing at The Art Syndicate. Actually, I’m embarrassed because we went to his political art show in mid-August and I didn’t get it blogged before this one. I was even more embarrassed when I meet Hugo, one of the artists… A short walk through Naftzger park with the Carrie Nation drinking fountain (site of the first bar she bashed in Wichita) and past the construction/destruction for the arena to Commerce street and the fine folks at The Fiber Studio.

Diane and Gary Lincoln’s “Hits the Fan” series lined the walls and Buddha-inspired sculptures filled the center. Dave asked Gary about the resemblance and found it was “not co-incidental”. Gary is the guy in the black T-shirt.

Acrylic and collaged materials cover actual folding fans and a parasol. I particularly noted “Bushwacked” and sent Dave to quick catch a photo of the child looking up at the “Afghani children’s parasol”.

Other works on the wall were acrylic and gouache on paper – or birch.

One of these days I’ll get my own Marilyn Grisham

I don’t think I’ve seen Marilyn’s work with text added or sculptured edges, though Dave had asked her and Marilyn said those were techniques she had used early on and was going back to. I liked “Grass is indispensible” with text (see July FF for in-process photo) and “Colors of the unexpected” for it’s edges.

Down the street at Divers, an all-Kansans exhibit included a Birger Sandzen I had not seen before. John Boldenow pointed me towards a small painting at the end of the line, saying it was one of two they could have sold about twenty times. Lester Rayner is “all about sacred geometry”, emphasizing circles, squares and triangles. According to the painting notes, he had become fascinated with the circus as a child.

At Fisch Haus, I wondered what the 2007 “New Wichita Alphabet” is. Kent William exhibited the “A is for Africa”.

Then I saw Steve Atwood’s “Spoon with four 4’s”

and thought this must be the guy who did the exhibit about the relationship between his wife and the machines that kept her alive. I was impressed that the two kids behind the counter knew the answer to that question! I will still say that was one of the most moving art exhibits I have ever seen. It was one that hooked us on Final Friday. It’s getting late, but we want to hit Shift Space, City Arts and Tangent Lab. The Trolley was nowhere in sight and we took off at a fast walk back towards Old Town. Having remembered “third street” as part of the address, we headed east until it started to push my comfort zone being out there at night, then came back west and found it almost on City Art’s doorstep for John Hammer’s “passion fruit jungle: Acts of Observation and Appropriation”.

Outside was a guy making the rounds on a custom bike.

City Arts had a couple of pieces by Conrad Snider from Newton. We liked these figures even better than the ones at the Blue Sky sculpture in Newton.

I liked Linda Metsker’s “Eagle Spirit mask” and “Dragon Flies”, both watercolor batik.

We were fascinated by the ethereal quality of the paper and tried to show it, with holes, in this closeup from “Dragon Flies”.

On our way to Tangent Lab, we walked with Jarrod Asquistapace and Rebekah Askren (did they sit alphabetically in grade school?) until we met Joanna Toevs and Matt Schmidt, Bethel grads and friends of Sophia, the Indian student who lived with us during college. Joanna, studying public health, had taken a class with Kay Ferris (fantasyart farm).

Jarrod and Rebekah were on their first FF. We talked so long with J and M, they were coming back down before we got up to Tangent Lab. Meeting people is at least half of Final Friday for me. On our way up to the third floor gallery, I looked out the window and saw the horse and carriage ride heading south.

Les Yoyeurs! at Tangent Labs showed works by Jaki McElroy, Zee Tamplen, Melissa Slates, Aleycia Crawford and Toni Wiesner.

We got there just as the artists were saying a little about their art, we caught the end of Jacki McElroy, “…be that person to do their art, show their art…I could go on for about 15 minutes… some (of the other artists) were taken aback by this whole concept of talking…” Jaki was not, speaking for herself and Toni, who was not there to speak for herself. Zee said her art was mostly lesbian erotica; she would like to let everyone know that they are beautiful, noting that “a lot of Wichita are taking a liking to me – but some generations are not…”. Aleycia Crawford is an airbrush & pinup artist (very smooth work).

“Cuddles and Doubles” by Jaki. I also liked “Justapose” (no photo).

Melissa Slates painted her first nude, “Lady in Red”, at 16. It was there on exhibit, but Dave missed taking a photo (another reason why we each need a camera!) Thanks to a high school art teacher, Melissa ended up taking art classes at WSU 1/2 time while still in high school – and – doing what artists in college do, painted a nude. Never mind that she won a congressional art award (Todd Tihart purchased a piece) for her art, a high school administrator “flipped out” when he saw the nude and tried to cover it up… She admitted it was done “almost as a rebellion…to push the edge/get in trouble”. Gradually her art changed to explore “commonalities: relationships, family, inside, romance, using the body to portray and evoke those emotions. We all have insecurities in areas. My art is like my children – it exists because of me. I have purpose because of it…wouldn’t have it any other way.” Melissa has two children. Her two-year old has autism and Melissa has become an activist mom, advocating for her own and other children with autism. Melissa sees the giftedness of her child,”she’s going to be my protege.”

“My life is a series of circles”

“I think I’ll be dead before I find the locksmith”

It’s after 11 pm, Carol and I are both beat and ready to go home. What are those guys doing? It’s dueling cameras… (video didn’t upload. Sorry. Maybe, better not…

Tangent lab is usually the last to close. Outside pedicabs ferry bar hoppers and the trolley (having run a route of galleries for the art crawl) awaits a different clientele and a new route for the rest of the evening.

One Comment

  1. Joel:

    Thanks for the blog! I enjoyed it.