Current Exhibitions
Australian Glass Art, American Links

Australian Glass Art, American Links is an ambitious exhibition organized by the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, Washington.

The exhibition features the work of 21 Australian and five American contemporary glass artists—all leaders in the field internationally.

It is the first American museum exhibition dedicated to the wide spectrum of Australian studio glass and the clear link between artists and institutions in Australia and the Pacific Northwest.

"Expect to be awed," wrote exhibition curator Vicki Halper, a noted decorative arts scholar and former Seattle Art Museum curator. "The connections between Australia and the Pacific Northwest are longstanding and fascinating. But, the differences between the art of the two regions are just as intriguing. Australians excel in fused and cold worked glass, which are not as prevalent in the Pacific Northwest. Opaque surfaces and muted colors are likewise more dominant in Australian glass than in the Pacific Northwest."

The exhibition tells two related stories that began in the 1970s—threading the land down under to the Pacific Northwest. In 1974, American artist Richard Marquis travelled to Australia to lecture at the invitation of the Australia Council for the Arts. Marquis’ relationship with Australian artist Nick Mount initiated a lineage of blown-glass artists in Australia. The second story centers on kiln-formed glass and the relationship between Klaus Moje, founder of the glass workshop at Australian National University in Canberra, and the Bullseye Glass Company in Portland, Oregon.

In 1979, Moje met Boyce Lundstrom, co-founder of Bullseye Glass Company, while at a workshop at Pilchuck Glass School founded by artist Dale Chihuly in Washington. At Moje's instigation, Bullseye Glass Company developed a line of compatible, fusible glass that solved long-standing technical problems. This glass is widely used by Australian artists today.

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Hold the Moment: American Modern Works on Paper from the Wichita Art Museum Collection

When modern photographer Alfred Stieglitz characterized his work, he once wrote: "What is important to me is to hold the moment... to put down something so completely that when you look at what you've put down, you will relive the original experience."

This point captures the driving mission for so many modern artists. Beginning in the late 19th century, artists turned away from the dominating art academies and traditions they considered rigid and stale.

Rather than continue with subjects and styles centuries old, progressive artist yearned to reflect their own time and to better express their experience. New forms of artistic expression--impressionism, cubism, futurism, as examples--went hand in hand with the moderns' pioneering vision for new art to reflect a new time.

The Wichita Art Museum holds a distinguished collection of American modernism. In conjunction with the touring exhibition of treasured gems of American modern art from the Brooklyn Museum, a selection of WAM's prized works on paper from this important moment in art history will be on view through the fall. The exhibition features glowing examples by Arthur Dove, Stuart Davis, Charles Demuth, John Marin, Maurice Prendergast, Alfred Stieglitz, and many others.

In turning away from confining artistic protocols and regulations, artists pressed for freedom of expression and innovation. As the American art critic Charles Caffin bemoaned in 1900, "a great deal of American painting is characterized by irreproachable table manners rather than salient expression, by a desire to be amiable rather than convincing." Moderns were renegades who championed self-expression, ignored the rules, and crafted their own, freshly original art. What appeared as radical at the time is now revered for boldness of vision and the depth of expression. This fall, the Wichita Art Museum galleries will sing with exquisite American drawings, watercolors, and prints from this dynamic moment of change in 1890 to 1950.

All museum exhibitions receive generous sponsorship from the Friends of the Wichita Art Museum Endowment Fund and the City of Wichita.

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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.

All museum exhibitions receive generous sponsorship from the Friends of the Wichita Art Museum Endowment Fund and the City of Wichita.

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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. WAM's Carlene and Lee Banks Rotunda Gallery has been transformed into an American salon featuring remarkable 19th-century paintings from the museum's permanent collection.

All museum exhibitions receive generous sponsorship from the Friends of the Wichita Art Museum Endowment Fund and the City of Wichita.

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White Symphonies and Red Flowers: Color Abstraction of Natvar Bhavsar

Following exhibitions at the 2009 Venice Biennale and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, Natvar Bhavsar is a world-renowned abstract painter.

Yet, it was Wichita Art Museum that first recognized Bhavsar's unique vision, giving him his first one-person museum exhibition in 1979. Bhavsar begins his work by laying a monumental canvas, soaked with acrylic binder, on the ground.

Moving back and forth and around the canvas, the artist showers clouds of dry pigment onto the prepared surface. Bhavsar notes that his canvases invite the viewer to explore their own feelings and thoughts kindled by the pure visual language of color.

Former Wichita Art Museum director Howard Wooden perhaps described Bhavsar's work best, noting, "If you have to classify him, he is an abstract expressionist but his work is unique. [His paintings] always
remind me of the state of mind just before you awaken from a dream."

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Political Animal: The Cartoons of Thomas Nast

Thomas Nast defined the art of the political cartoon.

During his 26-year career at the popular New York journal Harper's Weekly, Nast created more than 3,000 cartoons. Many of his creations--including the Democratic Donkey and the Republican Elephant--are still in use today.

Just in time for election season, this collection of cartoons drawn entirely from WAM's holdings explores the artist’s use of animals to parody 19th-century political culture. A powerful figure in his own day, today Nast is recognized as one of the most important cartoonists and political commentators of all time.

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#selfie

In 2013, Oxford Dictionaries named selfie the Word of the Year.

The use of the word increased 17,000% from January to December 2013. It was not only the use of the word that saw a dramatic jump, selfie images took over our computer and cell phone screens. Estimates suggest that over 18 million selfies are uploaded every week.

It seems like everyone who is anyone has posted a selfie somewhere on the internet: Pope Francis, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, and political leaders--including British Prime Minister David Cameron and U.S. President Barack Obama.

While the culture of social media created the word, selfie, this type of imagery is not new. It is simply the most recent version of a much older artistic standard—the self-portrait. This form of expression, which can be traced back to ancient Greece, has quietly persisted throughout the history of art, only to emerge in our time as the most common type of digital image.

Why is the self-portrait so important to us today? This fall, WAM invites visitors to explore the relevance of this digital trend and its long artistic history with 20 self-portraits from the permanent collection probing the different forms of the selfie. Museum-goers will then be asked to take and contribute their own self-portrait--now popularly known as a selfie--at a user-friendly station in the Living Room. All the smiles and poses will be uploaded and displayed in digital frames in River Lobby.

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Steuben Glass from the Wichita Art Museum Collection

The Wichita Art Museum holds the largest collection of Steuben glass outside the Corning Museum of Glass, the museum in the city of the former Steuben Glass Works. An impressive selection of the Dr. Robert S. Burnstein collection is now on display in the F. Price Cossman Memorial Trust Gallery.

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