Arts & Culture

Young artists spread the word about WAM

If you're seeing the letters WAM showing up in storefront windows downtown, you're witnessing the Wichita Art Museum hitting the "refresh" button.

"We're kind of stodgy and stuffy, and people know about our collection — they've seen us and they're not coming back," said Don Grant, former TV news anchor and now a financial adviser at Smith Barney.

He's taking advantage of his relatively recent arrival on the art museum's board to bring a new perspective to marketing the institution.

One of his ideas: Get high school art students to create artwork featuring the museum's initials and use it to dress up empty storefronts downtown.

Five or six have taken him up on the idea, and other artists are starting to express interest in donating their talents.

A few of the works have been installed so far, including on the east side of the Eaton, where WAM is spelled out using multiple stamped prints of Lady Gaga with WAM printed across her lips.

While this art is graffiti-like, Grant said he was open to any type of media.

The WaterWalk has one of the installations, as does the former Woolf Brothers building, and a few more windows on Douglas are in the works.

"We want to kick it up," Grant said.

He would like it to spread beyond downtown, too — if someone has a place on the west side, or if there's a space available in Bradley Fair, "I want to see a window that says WAM on it," he said.

He sees many benefits to the project: It's attractive, people are seeing art in places where it's not expected, building owners like it because it draws attention to their storefront and makes it looks nice.

Plus, "it might bring a smile to a face," Grant says. "It gets the word out."