The work of some of the country's most talented watercolorists is on display now at Wichita Center for the Arts.
For the second year in a row, the annual Kansas Watercolor Society National Exhibition was open to artists from all of North America, and the range of works is diverse and impressive.
Juror Janet Walsh examined 528 pieces before choosing 86 for the show, which will be up through Jan. 2. Eighteen of the 72 artists represented are from Kansas, with five from Wichita.
"This show just seems to get better and better every year," Howard Ellington, executive director, said. "This particular juror was very interested in figurative work (works with people in them). There seems to be a large number of paintings that evoke a story or a narrative."
Gallery director Amy Reep agreed.
"Walsh had commented that in order to make her decisions, she looks beyond the technique and the style and she looks for the artist's inner feelings and personalities," she said.
Walsh, a resident of Pennsylvania, is president emeritus of the American Watercolor Society. Part of her job as juror was to choose 10 paintings to receive cash awards, the highest being $1,000 for best of show. For the second year in a row, the top prize was won by Soon Warren, of Fort Worth, Texas. She won with her painting "Winter Shadow," which depicts a bright, sun-drenched building with chairs lined up along the side.
The artist's skill is apparent in her ability to depict light and shadow as well as her proficiency to paint in the difficult trompe l'oeil style.
For the first time this year, a portion of dues paid by Kansas Watercolor Society members will be used to purchase one of the show's works to add to the Center's permanent collection, Ellington said.
"The quality level of these artists is really phenomenal," he said. "It's hard to pick a single piece that really stands out because there are so many incredible techniques.
"I am always so impressed by the fact that each of these artists starts with a blank piece of paper, but the end results are so diverse and unique. This show has so much creativity and variety. Watercolorists are nonconformists; they each paint how they view the world, and that is what makes this exhibition so much fun."
If you go
Kansas Watercolor Society National Exhibition 2010
What: Exhibit of 86 paintings by artists throughout North America
Where: Wichita Center for the Arts, 9112 E. Central
When: On view through Jan. 2. Gallery hours are 1-5 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays.
How much: Admission is free.
For more information, call 316-634-2787.