Current Exhibitions

Seattle-based independent curator Vicki Halper consulted on the museum's new glass display in the F. Price Cossman Memorial Trust Gallery

Art of Fire: Glass Art from the WAM Collection

Reimagined anew and opening in April, 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.

Notably, Halper curated WAM's popular 2014 summer exhibition Australian Glass Art, American Links for the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, Washington.

Revealing WAM's rich holdings , the variety, quality, and artistry of Steuben glass will be 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 will acknowledge and examine how contemporary glass artists explore the continuing allure and legacy of Steuben. Magnificent work by such living artists as Dante Marioni and Kiki Smith will be on view.

The new collection display also features a new commission--an elaborate, Steuben-inspired candelabrum--by glass artist Andy Paiko. This special work will be effervescent! It incorporates an abundantly enthusiastic array of forms and techniques first developed by Steuben. Paiko's tapering candle holders that hang gracefully from the central form, each demonstrate the Steuben "air-twist" technique, perfected by designer George Thompson. The cinched, bell-shaped forms of upper part of the large-scale candleholder are typical of Thompson's designs. WAM'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.

On view in the F. Price Cossman Memorial Trust Gallery.

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Ethan Turpin, Snowball Fight with a Polar Bear, Arctic Circle, 2012. Chromogenic print on stereocard, 3 1/2 x 7 inches. Courtesy of the artist

Five Alchemists: Contemporary Photographers Explore 19th-Century Techniques

As the technical revolution of digital photography explodes, some artists have turned away from the speed and ease of digital imagining.

 

The five artists chosen for this exhibition--David Emitt Adams, Jody Ake, Ethan Turpin, Heidi Kirkpatrick, and Eric Mertens--explore previously abandoned forms of chemical photography.

Going back to 19th-century manuals, these artists rediscover and reinterpret the techniques and magic of photography's pioneers for today's world.

On view in the Paul Ross Gallery and Scott and Carol Ritchie Gallery.

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Norma Bassett Hall, Old Sycamore, 1942. Color block print, 13 1/2 x 11 1/8 inches. Courtesy Lockhart Family Collection

Chipping the Block, Painting the Silk: The Color Prints of Norma Bassett Hall

Guest-curated by Dr. Joby Patterson, Chipping the Block is the first one-woman exhibition of artist Norma Bassett Hall's work since her death in 1957.

Born in Oregon, Bassett Hall studied at the Portland Art Association and the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1922, she married Arthur Hall, who had been a fellow student at the Art Institute, and the couple settled in El Dorado, Kansas.

It was during these early years in Kansas that Bassett Hall explored the artistic possibilities of woodblock printing. 1930 marked the launch of the Prairie Print Makers, with Bassett Hall as the only female founding member. In her work, Hall employed line, color, and pattern with delicate skill, using up to seven blocks for each print.

On view in the Kurdian Gallery.

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Art We Love

2015 marks the 80th anniversary of the Wichita Art Museum.

To celebrate this milestone, "Art We Love" is a series of three exhibitions across the year that will feature works of art chosen by a cross-section of people who call Wichita home.

In addition to the selection by guest community curators, each presentation of "Art We Love" will feature one artwork selected by popularity vote online. Benefactor Louise Caldwell Murdock gave a bequest to found the art museum and build its collection--for the Wichita community. This special series continues and honors her vision by inviting community members to come behind-the-scene and chose a favorite artwork to share with the public.

The first Art We Love installment features works of art from WAM’s collection chosen by:


On view in the Vollmer Gallery.

 

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Birger Sandzen, "Farm on Smoky River," 1936. Lithograph on paper, 16 1/8 x 20 inches. Wichita Art Museum, Gift of Virginia Vollmer Barr, Clarence E. Vollmer Collection

Prairie Print Makers: Process, Style, Meaning

The Prairie Print Makers--the famous Wichita artist group formed in 1930--produced some of the nation’s bestrespected fine art prints during the era.

The Wichita Art Museum is the proud repository of over 300 prints by this important group. This exhibition explores the different processes and styles embraced by the Prairie Print Makers, especially Japanese woodblock techniques.

The show is composed of work from the museum's collection with a few strategic loans, and it complements the special exhibition of Norma Bassett Hall, the only woman artist among the Prairie Print Makers founders.

On view in the DeVore Gallery.

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Pairpoint Glass, Candlestick (one of a pair), about 1920–1925. Blown glass, 10 1/16 x 5 3/16 inches. Gift of Robert S. Burnstein

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.

On view in the Lulu H. Brasted Board Room.

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John Steuart Curry, Kansas Cornfield, 1933. Oil on canvas, 60 3/8 x 38 3/8 inches. Wichita Art Museum, Roland P. Murdock Collection

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 WAM'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 WAM'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. In celebration of the museum's upcoming 80th anniversary in 2015, Storytelling, a reinstallation of the permanent collection, celebrates the histories, mysteries, and anecdotes that make the Wichita Art Museum collection unlike any other.

Each and every one of WAM's objects has a story to tell. What influenced its creation? Who is pictured? How did the work come to Wichita? Storytelling invites visitors to take another look at familiar favorites from the collection as well as important works that have been off view for many years. We hope that the artworks inspire a meaningful encounter with the past, one that is relevant to everyone's personal story today.

On view in the Louise Caldwell Murdock Gallery, Elizabeth S. Navas Gallery, and the Excel/Cargill Cares Gallery.

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Thomas Moran, The Waterfall, 1857. Oil on canvas, 25 1/2 x 40 1/2 inches. Wichita Art Museum, Gift of the Robert M. Beren and Joan S. Beren Foundation

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.

On view in the Carlene and Lee Banks Rotunda Gallery.

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Unknown (Costa Rican), Seated Man on Tripod Base, 100 B.C. - 550 A.D. Terra cotta, 3 1/2 inches. Gift of Louise and S. O. Beren with assistance from the Wichita Art Museum Endowment Association

Pre-Columbian Art and Artifacts from the Museum's Collection

This display showcases WAM's unique collection of Pre-Columbian art. These sculptures and vessels in terra cotta and stone represent the ancient Indian cultures of Mexico and Middle America including cultures such as the Maya and Aztec.

This collection complements the museum's outstanding American art collection by bridging the gap between the indigenous American cultures and the post-European cultural developments in America.

In Mesoamerican culture, pottery was appreciated as an artistic medium--a way people could express emotions and ideas--not solely as a utilitarian material. To make ceramic art, these ancient peoples gathered clay from local sources and formed shapes using only their hands by pinching or coiling the clay. After shaping the objects, they were placed in very hot, open fires and baked until hard.

On view in the Cessna Art Investigation Gallery.

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Charles M. Russell, Indian Buffalo Hunt, 1897. Oil on canvas, 36 1/4 x 48 1/4 inches. M. C. Naftzger Collection

Heritage of the West

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.

On view in the Charles M. Russell Gallery.

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