Wichita Art Museum

The Wichita Art Museum brings people, ideas, and American art together to enrich lives and build community.

Light & Shadow: Alyson Shotz and Kumi Yamashita
August 3, 2019 through January 5, 2020

Light & Shadow: Alyson Shotz and Kumi Yamashita features the work of two sculptors who create work of ethereal beauty. Alyson Shotz strings silvered glass beads on steel thread and hangs her nets and skeins in floor-to-ceiling installations. A critic remarked that her work “approaches invisibility.” In it, the solid materials of most sculptures are replaced by air and light. Kumi Yamashita presents ordinary objects that cast extraordinary shadows. Under raking light, a wall with a seemingly random scattering of wooden numbers yields a child’s monumental profile. A carved exclamation point casts a shadow of a question mark. A chair casts a shadow of a seated woman. Remove the light, and the art disappears.

Both artists create sculptures through labor-intensive handwork and trial and error experimentation. They are each concerned with expanding bits of matter into large installations, the space-occupying potential of virtually weightless materials, and the variability and mystery of experience. In Light and Shadow, the Wichita Art Museum is delighted to present Shotz and Yamashita’s awe-inspiring environments to Wichita and the region.

The exhibition is guest curated by Vicki Halper, former curator of the Seattle Art Museum. Halper also curated Australian Glass Art, American Links, and Cameo Glass in Context: Charlotte Potter and April Surgent.


Will Barnet: Timeless Visions
June 14 through November 17, 2019

Will Barnet: Timeless Visions features seven works by one of America’s most evocative and haunting artists. Drawn from Barnet’s home life and often featuring his wife and daughter as models, Barnet’s prints and paintings are quiet and personal but also powerfully transcendent. In each, Barnet depicts what he knows intimately–his wife, his daughter, family pets, the woods and coast of Maine–and uses it to explore such timeless themes as love, intimacy, solitude, and death.


Charles Capps: Prairie Print Maker
April 27 through September 29, 2019

Charles Capps: Prairie Print Maker celebrates the work of Wichitan Charles “Chili” Capps, one of ten original members of the Prairie Print Makers. The Prairie Print Makers—founded in 1930 by many of our region’s best artists—worked to make fine art accessible to everyday Kansans and joined with other print societies to create a broad culture of print collecting throughout America. Capps was the group’s aquatint specialist and became one of the country’s greatest masters of this notoriously difficult printmaking technique. The artist primarily depicted the landscapes of Kansas and New Mexico, creating soft, velvety views of the mountains and prairies. Charles Capps: Prairie Print Maker is curated by Barbara Thompson, granddaughter of Prairie Print Maker C. A. Seward. The exhibition is part of an ongoing series at the Wichita Art Museum that celebrates the Prairie Print Makers and their regional and national legacy.

SAVE THE DATE: Saturday, September 14, 2019
Print Forum
The Wichita Art Museum presents the biennial Print Forum and C. A. Seward Dinner on Saturday, September 14, 2019. The biennial event showcases the Prairie Print Makers, a Wichita artist collective, as well as the museum’s dedication to the group through collecting, exhibition, and public programs. This year’s Forum and C. A. Seward Dinner celebrates the work of Prairie Print Maker Charles “Chili” Capps.

The Prairie Print Makers group was formed in 1930, when 11 of the best artists in Kansas gathered in the Lindsborg studio of artist Birger Sandzen. Planning to offer affordable artwork that would appeal to collectors, the Prairie Print Makers create etchings, silkscreens, linoleum cuts, block prints, and lithographs. Within four years of its founding, the group boasted 47 active members and more than 100 associate members. The collective continued until 1965.

Leading the group’s formation was artist C. A. Seward. Seward settled in Wichita in 1907, establishing one of the few fine printing services outside of New York City and fostering a vital arts community in Wichita. Seward had a singular goal to bring art into everyone’s life.

Print Forum on Aquatints
The Forum offers an afternoon of illustrated talks on the history, process, and extraordinarily expressive qualities of aquatints. The talks expand upon the Wichita Art Museum’s exhibition Charles Capps: Prairie Print Maker. Capps was devoted to aquatint as a print medium and celebrated for his mastery. The Print Forum speakers will explore the special abilities and contributions of aquatints, Charles Capps, and the Prairie Print Makers.

Featured speakers include: Barbara Thompson, independent art historian and granddaughter of C. A. Seward; Sara Bane, PhD candidate, University of California; Reuben Saunders, print dealer and owner, Reuben Saunders Fine Art. A reception follows. For details on the Print Forum or associated events, visit wichitaartmuseum.org/forum.


Heritage of the West: Charles M. Russell

Charles Russell was one of the great painters of the American West. With little formal training but much firsthand experience of his subject, he captured the western landscape, wildlife, cowboys, and Indians in all of its wild if nostalgic moments.

In 1880, when he was only 16, Russell went to Montana for the first time to work on a family friend’s ranch. Ranch life was not for Russell, but he would stay in Montana for two years working for a hunter and trapper.

He began to draw and paint animals at this time and learned a great deal about their anatomy. In 1882, he went to work as a night herder for a group of cowboys called the Judith Basin Roundup, and on and off for the next 11 years he would work watching cattle by night and painting during the day.

In 1888, Russell returned to St. Louis for a short time and submitted some of his art to Harpers Weekly, where it was published. His work had become very popular in the Montana territory, and he began to sell pieces and take commissions for works when he returned.

With the advent of the railroad to Montana, the territory became more civilized, and Russell mostly gave up cowboy life in order to become a full time painter of the life he had known in the West that was now slowly fading.


No Idle Hands: Treasures from the Americana Collection at the Wichita Art Museum

No Idle Hands gives museum visitors a chance to view the art and artifacts that reflect daily life in America’s early history. The exhibition features highlights from the Wichita Art Museum’s newly acquired collection of more than 450 works of American folk art, including some of the best furniture, samplers, hunting decoys and lures, and corner store paraphernalia from the new collection.

It tells the story of America’s past while also foregrounding the beautiful materials and craftsmanship of many of these objects.

The Wichita Art Museum’s curatorial staff organized the exhibition with architect Dean Bradley, of Platt, Bradley, Adams, and Associates. As a specialist in residential architecture with a personal passion for history and preservation who also serves on the board of The Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum, Bradley designed a gallery installation evoking the stores and homes in which the works were originally used and cherished. Shop signs–including iconic striped barber poles–conjure up an image of Main Street. Portraits, toys, and miniatures–small, hand-held portraits sometimes worn as jewelry–reference the life of the family and home. Each object–some rare and precious and others common fare—tells the story of the changes and continuities of daily life in America over the last 200 years.


Storytelling: Highlights and Insights from the Wichita Art Museum Collection

Every work of art has a story to tell.

When John Steuart Curry was growing up in on his family farm near Dunavant, Kansas, he would often wander into the high fields of corn. “I remember,” he wrote, “wandering through them and being over-powered by the fear of being  lost in their green confines.”

At 35 years of age, Curry returned to those fields to capture in his work the same sense of drama he felt, “beneath our windblown Kansas skies.” For Curry, Kansas Cornfield represented the story of his youth on a Kansas farm.

When Curry’s Kansas Cornfield entered the Wichita Art Museum’s permanent collection, a new chapter in its tale was written and a new story began. The work was the first painting collected by the Wichita Art Museum. As the foundational work of art for the new museum, the painting came to symbolize the Wichita Art Museum’s commitment to both the highest caliber American art and to Kansas audiences.

Today, Kansas Cornfield has become a part of many visitors’ personal stories. Brett Zongker, an Associated Press journalist based in Washington D.C., recently featured the painting on his popular Twitter feed. As a self-described “son of Kansas,” the painting represents home to Zongker.

Museums, by their very nature, are repositories of incredible stories. The Wichita Art Museum has introduced its visitors to the best American artwork and has been a part of thousands of engaging stories.


Art of Fire: Frederick Carder and Steuben Glass

Completely re-imagined, the museum presents a compelling arrangement of the distinguished and growing glass art collection. For the new display, the museum consulted with the Seattle-based independent curator and craft scholar Vicki Halper.

Revealing the Wichita Art Museum’s rich holdings of glass, the variety, quality, and artistry of Steuben glass is presented. In fascinating ways, the exquisite work of the Steuben Glass Works, the world-class glass manufacturer (1903—2011), continues to beguile and inspire artists. The new installation acknowledges and examines how contemporary glass artists explore the continuing allure and legacy of Steuben. Magnificent work by such living artists as Dante Marioni and Kiki Smith are on view.

The new collection display also features a new commission–an elaborate, Steuben-inspired candelabrum–by glass artist Andy Paiko. This special work is effervescent! It incorporates an abundantly enthusiastic array of forms and techniques first developed by Steuben. Paiko’s tapering candle holders hang gracefully from the central form, each demonstrating the Steuben “air-twist” technique, perfected by designer George Thompson. The cinched, bell-shaped forms of the upper part of the large-scale candle holder are typical of Thompson’s designs. The Wichita Art Museum’s collection includes original sketches by Thompson during his time working for Steuben, making Paiko’s re-imagining of Thompson’s forms particularly relevant to the collection.

An American Salon: 19th-century Paintings from the Wichita Art Museum’s Permanent Collection

The term salon style derives from the exhibition of the French Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture, which began in 1667 in Paris.

In order to display work by all the Academy’s students, the paintings were hung as close as possible from floor to ceiling. In the nineteenth century, this salon-style hanging became increasingly popular across Europe and in the United States. The gallery has been transformed into an American salon featuring remarkable 19th-century paintings from the museum’s permanent collection.


Catching Light: selections from the Wichita Art Museum’s Burnstein Collection

Dr. Robert Burnstein, a Detroit psychiatrist, began collecting glass in the 1980s. He was attracted to American glass of the 19th and 20th centuries because, as he stated, “it was a time when handcrafted expertise and precision craftsmanship were the benchmarks of the American glass industry.”

Soon he came to find that among American companies, the glass produced by Steuben was unsurpassed in quality, color intensity, and breadth of design.

Therefore, he focused his collecting first on Steuben, then on candlesticks in particular. He concentrated on candlesticks given their elegance of design and great variety of their colors and decorative techniques. Dr. Burnstein has presented his collection in honor of his parents, Donald and Arlene Burnstein.