It’s been a hectic month for artists at Gallery XII.
After a pipe burst three weeks ago, water damage threatened their popular Crazy Eights exhibit. Nearly all of the small works survived, though, and now are hanging in the newly repaired and renovated space. Organizers are extending the show through mid-September.
“Everyone just loves this show, not only the people who participate, but the whole community,” said Maureen Walter, the gallery’s hanging chairwoman. “Everybody has room for a small piece of art. Some have bigger price tags, but others are very affordable.”
This year, there’s an added dimension to the 8-by-8-inch works with the introduction of a juror. Wichita art collector Joe Goodwin judged the more than 70 pieces submitted that spanned a multitude of mediums, including acrylic, ink, watercolors, pastels, textile collages and a three-dimensional fiber art piece, along with a work of paint on stainless steel.
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“This is the first year that we had the show juried for excellence, and the quality of the entries is real, real high,” Walter said. “We asked Joe to narrow it down to the top three, and he had a real hard time. It took him a long time to do it.”
Cash awards were given to the top three artists. Marcia Scurfield took third place for her “Brooding” lithograph, a serious work that focuses on a pensive statue-like figure resting amid an Asian cityscape. Cathy Fiorelli’s “Manicure” was chosen for the second-place prize. It’s a block print featuring a rainbow of fruits and vegetables sprawled out in paint-like style along the 10 fingers of its subject. Melinda Weis was awarded first prize for her oil painting “Kansas Summer,” a green, grassy, wheat-filled tribute to the beauty of the colloquial countryside.
“One of the things we like about this show is that a high proportion of these people have never exhibited before,” Gallery XII President John Ellert said. “It gives new artists or people who just haven’t had the courage to exhibit a chance to be seen.”
Walter agreed that bringing in new people is one of the show’s strongest points. She said that in three years, they’ve found talented artists the gallery was completely unaware of, and they’ve brought in new membership partners to their gallery directly from the show. This year, they have their first children’s entries, including a spirited tennis-themed piece called “Score” by Ky Le, whose mother is a member of the gallery.
The Crazy Eights show opened for July’s Final Friday and had been up for two weeks when the water pipe burst. Walter said that only one piece was completely lost, and while some were soaked, they were able to be salvaged.
“Luckily, the damage was discovered early; otherwise it would have been a total disaster. That’s one of the reasons we only lost one piece,” she said. “Some of them had to be reframed. The oils, we were able to just wipe them off — they didn’t really get hurt.”
Gallery XII is now reopened, sporting a shining new floor and freshly repaired walls. Ellert said a lot of drywall was replaced, and that members took the opportunity to repaint and repatch the entire gallery.
“We wanted a nice fresh look, in addition to the new floor,” he said.
Walter said she is just happy to have the art back up and looks forward to resuming life as usual at the gallery.
“For the folks who have seen it, reaction has been great,” she said of Crazy Eights. “We’ve had strong sales. We’ve had people calling wanting to see the show, hoping we were reopened so they could get in to see it. Now they can.”