‘Crazy Eights’ exhibit offers small pieces of art for everyone by regional artists of all ages

Tiny canvasses are having a big effect at Gallery XII this month. The fourth annual “Crazy Eights” exhibit showcases small works from more than 75 local and regional artists. Members of the artist cooperative say that the invitational show has allowed them to discover new talent while offering an assorted range of art.

Lyda Andrews, a member of Gallery XII, says there’s something for everyone at the show.

“It goes from realistic to semi-abstract, some professionals in there, as well as some beginners. Watercolors, oils, three-dimensional, mixed media. We even have one piece from a 9-year-old. It all helps make the show unique.”

“Crazy Eights” began in 2010 in part as a way to help gain exposure for budding artists who might not otherwise be able to get shown in a gallery. Anyone can submit a work that measures either 8 by 8 inches or 12 by 12 inches. All media and subject matters are accepted. The first 79 works received that meet the size requirement will be shown. John Ellert, a photographer and member of the gallery, said the show is among the gallery’s most popular, largely because it draws in so many different artists, many of whom are exhibiting for the first time.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for budding artists to get exhibition experience,” he said. “It’s a no-threat exhibition opportunity.”

For Melinda J. Weis, the exhibition was a foray into a new chapter for her art. She first heard about it from a friend and entered a piece into the second show in 2011. That eventually led to her becoming a member of the artist cooperative. She said one of the most important aspects of this show is the diversity.

“Everyone who comes in sees something different,” she said. “That’s what is so great about this show. It really speaks to everyone. It’s not just one piece that everyone comes to see.”

The canvasses hanging this year feature a wide swath of talent and technique. Andrews has a semi-abstract sunset called “Layers,” a work that she says is a bit on the dark side and rather moody. Weis captures a piece of Wichita history in her “Buckner & 63rd” oil painting. In it, she pays homage to an intersection that no longer looks as it once did. Ellert has an abstract photograph of an in-camera composite of a single flower aptly named “Kaleidoscope” because of how the shapes and colors are angled.

Patty Gateley has a photo collage called “Piece Begins with a Smile” that mixes together beaming expressions from people of different races and cultures. A stunningly detailed photo of a Kansas jackrabbit with piercing round eyes is captured by the lens of Don Vine. Wool, silk, beads and enamel weave together a colorful red and pink work by Susan DeWitt called “Cherries for the Madonna.” Ky Q. Le has a mixed-media collage of different-colored roses.

While there is no jury for entry, the show is judged for excellence. Susan Fellows received a third-place award for her peacock-centric oil painting “Jewel of the Estate,” a work that Andrews said has received a lot of buzz. Joanna Ramondetta was awarded second place for her elegantly styled acrylic “Provencal Still Life.” Brian Hinkle’s “Stone Bridge” oil painting was awarded first prize.

Carolyn Denver, also a member of Gallery XII and who has an oil painting of Kansas sunflowers on display, said the show’s accessibility is its greatest strength.

“I just like the fact that you can do anything that you want to,” she said. “It’s open to the whole community, all ages. We get a lot of diversity and new faces.”