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New York state of mind

Many images come to mind when one thinks of New York City: clusters of people, flurries of yellow taxis, buildings reaching for the clouds, Broadway theaters, literary gatherings and the iconic Central Park.

All are represented in the more than 50 works in the exhibit "New York, New York" at the Wichita Art Museum.

Made up of photographs, paintings, works on paper and whimsical objets d'art, the exhibit is on loan from the Norton Museum of Art in Palm Beach, Fla. It was never intended to be a traveling exhibit, said museum curator Stephen Gleissner, but he persuaded the Norton Museum to bring it here after reading about the exhibit.

"There are so many Wichitans with strong New York connections — either they have worked or lived in New York or have family there or just love to visit," he said.

Many of the artists in the exhibit are also represented in the Wichita Art Museum's permanent collection, he said.

"So many of the works in this show may seem familiar or reminiscent of works that we have," he said. "It was really a perfect fit."

Unlike many exhibitions, this one is not arranged chronologically. Instead, it's set up according to five themes: "On the Waterfront," "In the Park," "Avenues and Streets," "On the Town" and "Tall Buildings."

"The exhibit begins with 'On the Waterfront,' which makes sense because that is traditionally how one approached New York," Gleissner said. "It is a port city, and this section also shows scenes of the shipping industry."

"In the Park" contains images from Central Park, long considered the breathing space of New York City. Viewers should feel a sense of calm and serenity in this section, compared with the hectic vibe of those that surround it.

The next and largest section is "Avenues and Streets," with prototypical street scenes from throughout the 20th century. All are quintessential New York City images, from a 1905 Childe Hassam painting of a winter street scene showing lines of horse-drawn buggies and ladies in long, flowing skirts to a 1940s image of yellow cabs and geometric buildings.

"On the Town" depicts scenes of New York City society and nightlife. "Art Opening" by William Gropper, for instance, depicts caricatures of pretentious artsy types at a show opening.

"Tall Buildings" seems to capture everything that is New York — the grandeur of its soaring structures, the closeness of neighborhoods, the old and the contemporary, everything that defines the city and its skyline so well known the world over.

If you go

New York, New York! The 20th century

What: More than 50 works celebrating the style and passion of New York City

Where: Wichita Art Museum, 1400 W. Museum Blvd.

When: On view through April 10. Museum hours 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and noon-5 p.m. Sundays.

How much: Admission $7; free on Saturdays. For more information, call 316-268-4921 or go to www.wichitaartmuseum.org.

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