Joann Ryan always wanted to see her block in Riverside put on an art show. Last fall, she organized one, to great success. On Saturday, neighbors in the 900 block of Porter Street once again will be showing off their creativity and artistic talent in the spring offering of the Porter Street Artists and Friends event.
It’s a new and growing tradition that brings together an eclectic mix of creative individuals who have clustered in the same area. Organizers say the event’s success is a tribute both to the uniqueness of their neighborhood and its proximity to many important Wichita arts landmarks.
“Around this area, there are several people who do fun, creative, cool things,” said lead organizer and host Ryan. “We checked each other’s stuff out and always said that one of these days we should have an art show on our block. I finally said it one too many times, and I just decided to do it last fall. Now it’s going to be a twice-a-year event.”
Ryan said that while 10 people showed their art last year, this weekend’s affair will have 22 different artists displaying and selling a variety of mediums. It will take place at her home, with works set up outside, all the way through her house and some in the backyard. There will also be a porch showcasing used art, where people who want to unload pieces from their personal collections can sell them to new homes. A food truck will pull in before noon to sell lunches.
Most of the artists live on Porter Street, but some live a block or two away. All are from Riverside. Watercolors, pastels, needle crafting, hand-designed greeting cards, metal sculptures, birdhouses, fairy gardens, decorative outdoor furniture, stained glass and jewelry will be among the offerings.
“When we did this last year, I knew that most of the people had never been in a show before but were very talented. I was tickled to give them the venue to put themselves out there,” Ryan said. “They were tickled to finally have some success at showing their things and selling their things. It was very exciting. I’m looking forward to seeing this again.”
Susan Cooper, a longtime friend of Ryan’s, attended last year as a guest. She has become more involved this year in the planning and will be selling some of her ceramics and fairy gardens at the event.
“It was a delight coming into the door and seeing every nook and cranny filled with the work that someone else did. It was fascinating,” she said. “It turned the house into a fascinating place to go through and explore. That was a surprise and a very positive feeling. I wanted to get more involved this year because I saw what a vibrant thing it was. I just love Riverside. I see it as such a creative place.”
It’s the uniqueness of the area that both Ryan and Cooper say makes this event a success. Because their homes are a few blocks away from the Wichita Art Museum and several important arts landmarks, such as “Keeper of the Plains,” they said that the area attracts clusters of creative talent. It’s part of why Cooper chose to move to the area seven years ago. Ryan, too, relocated for that same reason.
“It attracts people who are creative,” Ryan said of the neighborhood. “I moved here from Harvey County, and this was the only place I wanted to live because of the museums, the river and the bike paths.”
“The individuality of how people dress their house or have their yards adds so much,” Cooper said. “Each house is so different from the other. Everything stands out, and none of it just blends in. The art you’ll see this weekend is the same way.”