Linda Robinson opened Center Gallery in 2008 hoping to elevate and explore contemporary photography not only in Wichita, but also in the Midwest and nationally.
It's only natural that Robinson would want to use the space to help educate the public — as well as emerging artists — about all aspects of photography. She is an assistant professor of photography at Wichita State University.
"This is really an extension of my work in education," she said. "I try to educate my students to go out into the real world, and I wanted to provide them a venue in their hometown. A lot of my students aspire to be fine art photographers, and this venue can allow them to take that step."
Center Gallery is located in the Douglas Design District on Ellis Street. Sharp white walls, hardwood flooring and high ceilings are the backdrop to a space that has a distinct cosmopolitan vibe. Yet Robinson chose the name in homage to the gallery's place in the middle of the country.
"I believe the Midwest is getting placed on the map as an emerging arts center," she said.
To further her mission of education and enlightenment, Robinson last month founded the Midwest Center for Photography at the gallery.
It seeks to draw in the community by offering classes, workshops and artist talks. A juried exhibition is currently on display as part of its kickoff, with 32 artists from around the country submitting photos. Robinson chose 15 artists to display their works in the show, with subject matter ranging from portraits to landscapes to still life images.
"I appreciated that there were so many artists interested in the Midwestern landscape," Robinson said. "We had entries from all around the country, and a strong sense of what it means to be a photographer in the Midwest really rang out. These are great snapshots of our region and an honest reflection of the people who live here."
The gallery hosts a show each month, typically opening during the Final Friday art crawl.
Robinson hopes the Midwest Center for Photography will give a more structured approach to her offering of classes and lectures, which have proven very popular. They will be held on the Thursday evening before Final Friday.
"Every time we've hosted an artist lecture in the past, the chairs at the gallery have been full," she said."" I've seen community interest, so I wanted to expand on it more."
This spring, workshops will also be offered on Saturdays on a variety of topics. Most classes will last two hours and cost $50. Class topics will architecture photography, which focuses on the use of structures and buildings as subjects, and street photography, which documents life as it happens around us.
Dates and details will be announced on the gallery's website.
Robinson hopes to achieve a creative synergy through the classes, lectures, workshops and shows at the gallery.
"Wichita has had a lack of contemporary photography galleries," she said. "I want to help harness the creative energy that exists within the Midwest region. "
If you go
What: Art gallery that is home to Midwest Center for Photography. A juried show is currently on display.
Where: Center Gallery, 111 Ellis
When: Works on display through Feb. 18. Gallery hours noon-6 p.m. each Friday, or by appointment. Call 316-269-1250.
How much: Admission free. Many works for sale.
For more information, go to www.centergalleryonline.com.