Arts & Culture

Artist in motion: Christopher Gulick’s diverse talents fuel two shows

Wichita artist Christopher Gulick likes to say that the focus of his work is the “visual kinetics of sculpture.”

That’s appropriate, especially considering the kinetic nature of the artist himself.

Gulick, best known for his hanging mobiles, is working off a long artistic to-do list lately.

Just in the past couple of weeks, he’s opened two shows — one of which was inspired by his mother, one of which included a little spoken word performance. At the same time, he’s been preparing to install two of his sculptures at the Wichita Art Museum, where they’ll become part of the permanent collection.

“As busy as I seem to other people, I always feel like I’m goofing off to much,” Gulick said with a laugh.

Gulick’s two shows opened last week, both on Final Friday.

One is a series of Gulick’s sketches hanging in the Friends University Riney Fine Arts Gallery and titled “Sketches: I Really Learned How to Draw Watching Mom Doodle on Phone Books.”

The sketches are really blueprints for Gulick’s sculptures, some he’s made, some he might someday make. But the beautiful lines and simplicity of the sketches make them art in their own right, a fact recognized by Gulick’s friend Adam Achey.

Achey, an adjunct professor of art at Friends, persuaded Gulick to let him hang the sketches even though Gulick insists he can’t draw and rarely lets his sketches out of the house. A large metal Gulick sculpture, hanging in the center of the gallery and nearly touching the floor, finishes the show.

Gulick says the show is dedicated to his mother, artist Patricia Gulick, who died in 1999.

She would doodle on phone books constantly, he said, noting that he does the same thing. Gulick has a habit of taking design magazines to meetings and doodling ideas all over their pages. His doodles and sketches always remind him of his mother’s.

“I wish I’d kept some of those phone books,” he said.

The Riney show will hang until April 13.

Art fans can see a reprise of Gulick’s other Final Friday opening Friday at the Go Away Garage, 508 S. Commerce.

His brother, local percussionist Jim Gulick, was the brains behind the show, called “Ultrasonic Transducer: Sound Art.”

As part of the show, Jim Gulick turns his brother’s Wichita Art Museum-bound metal sculptures into tinging instruments. Meanwhile, Gulick performs a spoken word piece. Guitarists Achey and Mark S. Walker also are involved in the show, as is speaker Heather Powell.

The opening was such a hit last week, the group will re-perform it from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday.

The pieces, two large-scale Gulick mobiles, should be hanging in the Wichita Art Museum within the next three weeks. They’ll be installed near the staircases on the ground floor, in between the lecture hall and the children’s interactive gallery, Stephen Gleissner, the museum’s chief curator, said.

“What he came up with is so nuanced and beautiful on its own, it’s really going to enhance the space,” Gleissner said. “He just has a very charged but unpretentious creativity you can feel in all his work.”