Arts & Culture

Autumn & Art in the air

Art can be many things, says Janet Wright, who's putting together this weekend's Autumn & Art event at Bradley Fair shopping center.

It can be a $6,000 watercolor painting. A serving of colorful primavera pasta. The sounds produced by a jazz quartet. The alien-looking thingymijigger your child assembles using modeling clay, tiny springs and nuts and bolts.

All those artful items and then some will be available at Autumn & Art, a first-year juried art show and sale that organizers at Wichita Festivals, where Wright is president and CEO, hope will grow into an annual tradition rivaling the 79-year-old Plaza Art Fair in Kansas City.

Following are 10 things to know about the fair before you head out this weekend.

* The art is serious: More than 60 artists representing 13 media, from photography to sculpture to glass, will show and sell their art in booths all along Bradley Fair Parkway. Items will range in price from a couple of hundred to several thousand dollars, though several artists also will offer less expensive reproductions of their originals.

The show is juried, which means that a panel of art experts chose the artists who could participate.

* Some of the art is local: Of the artists, 17 are local, including Larry Stephenson, whose watercolors depict vintage toys and fly-fishing, and pastel artist Don Coons, known for his paintings of scenes from nature. Coons made festival organizers a deal on a large, framed painting of autumn trees in their full glory, and the painting will be given away to a festival attendee.

* The kids will be entertained: The Wichita Center for the Arts is offering a free family pavilion for kids that will include face painting, art activities, a coloring station and 3-D and 2-D art projects.

* You will be entertained: Several bands will perform throughout the show, including Trevor Stewart on Saturday and Jared Brickman on Sunday.

* You will be well-fed: Several Bradley Fair restaurants will sell food from their menus throughout the day on Saturday and Sunday, including Redrock Canyon Grill, Outback Steakhouse, Yia Yia's Eurobistro and more.

* It'll help you start your art collection: Not an art collector? The fair is small and accessible and a good place to learn the art collecting ropes. "It's a unique opportunity for someone who wants to start dabbling in art for their home or office to come and see what there is," Wright said.

* It's nothing like the River Festival: It was organized by Wichita Festivals and includes a food court and children's activities. But that's where the similarities to the River Festival's Art & Book fair end.

* It all starts with a big party: Tonight's preview party offers food and drink from Yia Yia's Eurobistro, live jazz and a chance to shop the art before the masses. It's from 6:30 to 9 p.m., and tickets are $100 ($70 of which is tax deductible) at the Wichita Festivals office.

* Otherwise, it's free: No button. No ticket. Patrons can browse for free from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.

* The particulars: Organizers are hoping to draw between 8,000 and 10,000 people. The event will be set up along a quarter mile of Bradley Fair Parkway, the twisty road behind the shopping center, and parking is available not only at Bradley Fair but also at nearby open parking lots, such as part of the Preferred Health Systems parking lot.