Arts & Culture

Small works, big talent

Seltzer Elementary School art teacher Marcia Scurfield’s “Crouching Child, Beijing” lithograph is among the works on display at Gallery XII’s Crazy Eights Small Works Show.
Seltzer Elementary School art teacher Marcia Scurfield’s “Crouching Child, Beijing” lithograph is among the works on display at Gallery XII’s Crazy Eights Small Works Show. Courtesy photo

There’s something “crazy” happening at Gallery XII this month. And organizers say that’s a good thing.

Usually known for exhibiting works from its more seasoned members, the gallery is displaying a colorful collection of old and new talent from across the area as part of the 412 Arts Center’s second “Crazy Eights” show. The small works are having a big impact on the gallery.

The 8-by-8-inch and 12-by-12-inch canvases represent a broad range of artistic experience.

“I always wanted to do a small works show,” said Maureen Walter, hanging chairwoman at Gallery XII. “Last year when we finally did it, we had great success. It was quite a popular show. We wanted to keep that momentum going.”

To put together the exhibit, organizers issued an open call to artists. They received hundreds of submissions. Many were from familiar artists and established talent, but there also were several unfamiliar names and many pieces from students.

Walter explained that the call for public submissions is rare for shows at the gallery.

“Many of these are first-time artists at our gallery. We don’t usually open up to non-members, but part of this show is exploring the vast talent that is out there,” she said. “We really had terrific luck with the works that came in. Last year, we actually found new artists who later joined the gallery as members after they were in the show. We’ve already had interest this year. It’s a win for everyone.”

One of those Gallery XII newcomers in this year’s show is Seltzer Elementary School art teacher Marcia Scurfield.

Her “Crouching Child, Beijing” lithograph was inspired by a 2003 trip to China. It’s a calm image of a girl comfortably squatting in the street, wrapping a package with masking tape and newspaper. Superimposed over her in red is a stone screen from the Forbidden City. Chinese yellow is added as a color drop.

The work is a combination of two photographs she blended using the polyplate lithography process, a technique she learned through classes at Wichita Center for the Arts this year.

“I was excited to have something to submit for this year’s show,” Scurfield said.

“Having always considered myself a 3-D artist — in stoneware pottery — I love all the possibilities I’ve discovered through printmaking this past year. I now look through the lens of my camera and see potential lithographs.”

In total, 78 artists are participating in the Crazy Eights show. Among the mediums represented are oil, pastels, acrylic, watercolor, mixed media and photography.

“Hail of a Storm” is a shiny digital photograph by Kathy Besthorn that commands attention. Using red and orange hues, the image shows the sun tepidly peering through a forest, perhaps just after a tempest.

Jill Brax fuses fruit and magazine clippings in “Two Pears.” The mixed-media work incorporates an autumn-looking pear duo set to the forefront of word trimmings. Bob Schwan offers up a playful acrylic work in “Hooter.” A multi-colored owl peers at viewers in a wise, yet frisky manner.

Jan Crotts pays homage to ballet in her pastel piece “To Stardom.” A back-turned dancer looks onward to a starry stage of the whimsical ballerinas she hopes to join.

“We’ve been blown away by the talent this city has,” Gallery XII member Joanna Ramondetta said. “Some of these artists are formally trained; some are just starting, while others are students. This show showcases the wealth of talent that is in this city.”

Walter said there’s another reason why people are “crazy” about the small works: “You can always find room for an 8-inch-by-8-inch. It’s also affordable. That’s why so many of these pieces have sold and continue to sell.”

If You Go

Crazy Eights Small Works Show

When: Works on display through Tuesday during normal gallery hours, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday

Where: Gallery XII, 412 Arts Center, 412 E. Douglas

How much: Free to view; works for sale

For more information: Visit http://wichitagalleryxii.com.

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