Arts & Culture

Tessera gallery a mosaic of Kansas art

Teressa Sliger is now the sole owner of the downtown art space formerly known as Vintera Gallery. The change in proprietorship brings with it a new name as well as developments for its mission. Tessera Fine Art Gallery features over 60 Kansas-based artists whose works span multiple genres and mediums. Sliger wants her gallery to be a place where artists can rent out space to show off their creativity while she handles the commercial side of marketing and sales. It’s a fusion of her passion for art with her 35-year background in aviation business that allows her to offer something unique to the local arts community.

The heart of the space’s aim can be found in the meaning of its namesake.

“Tessera is the plural form of tesserae, which is a piece from a mosaic,” she explained. “The way I see it, it’s bringing different forms of creativity together like pieces of glass. That makes the gallery a beautiful mosaic of art. It just happens to include all of the same letters in my name it felt like it was meant to be.”

The gallery’s grand opening was June 25 during Final Friday. Sliger said she plans to debut a different set of artists during each month the popular art crawl. This month’s offering will include Hutchinson photographer Brian Lingle; John Lindholm, a Wichita artist whose work focuses on hand-carved wood sculptures and carved alabaster with pewter pieces; and Tomiyo Tajiri, an artist originally from Japan who creates decorations with washi (Japanese traditional paper), origami, and other craft pieces imported from Japan. All three artists will be at the gallery for the opening on July 26, with Tajiri discussing her creative process as part of the event.

Sliger’s space at 412 E. Douglas is over 2,400 square feet of art that includes digital photos, watercolors, acrylics, mixed media paintings, collages, jewelry, carved wood, sculptures, blown glass, prints, pottery and more. She only features Kansas-based artists, and has creative talent represented from all corners of the state. Jason Soden, who lives northeast of Topeka, has several digitally-altered prints that showcase Kansas landscapes from vantage points often unseen. One of his eye-catching works features a sunset along a burning prairie. Wichita photographer Gerald Hill captures distinctive angles of the city’s architecture, offering a grand view of The Orpheum Theatre’s staircase and an inside look at a clock tower as part of his collection for sale. Steampunk art also has a home in the gallery with Gary Pendergrass’s uniquely designed objects, which include a mineral converter and a flying fish carrying away the characters from “The Wizard of Oz.”

Sliger said she gets a lot of visitors from out of the area who are staying at hotels downtown, often people working conventions, music theater or symphonies. She relishes showcasing what she calls Kansas’ exceptional beauty, and says she’s sold a lot of art to people who become captivated by it. She’s always looking to expand her roster of artists, too.

“There’s almost something for everyone here,” she said. “If I don’t have it, I’m looking for it.”

In addition to the wide range of art, Sliger also offers classes on drawing and painting, and is organizing an artist retreat in the Flint Hills this fall as part of her vision for a place where creative talent can come together and be accessible to the public. She hopes to add workshops featuring guest speakers and focusing on specialized topics soon.

Along with putting her background to use for the arts community, Sliger said one of the most exciting parts about her gallery is its proximity to other creative ventures. The lower floor of the building that houses Tessera is also the home of Gallery XII, a popular artist cooperative. Cabaret Old Town is directly upstairs.

“This whole building is all art in some form. It’s a very good creative flow,” she said. “I’m excited to be here and be doing this. Everything has taught me to this point, and I’ve been given the tools to do this up to this moment.”