Arts & Culture

CityArts plans a 20th ‘artiversary’ party this weekend

CityArts is hosting a 20th Artiversary Launch Party Friday, Jan. 5, to commemorate its 20th anniversary.
CityArts is hosting a 20th Artiversary Launch Party Friday, Jan. 5, to commemorate its 20th anniversary. File photo

This month, you can see artwork by 20 well-known local artists all in one place.

In celebration of CityArts’ 20th anniversary, it will open an exhibition called “20x20,” featuring works by 20 artists who exhibited there in its early days.

The gallery will be open from 6-8 p.m. Friday for what it’s calling the 20th Artiversary Launch Party.

“If you need an introduction to what Wichita has to offer when it comes to the arts, this is the show to come to,” said Emily Brookover, artistic director at CityArts. “These artists work in every media possible. It’s such a diverse and well-rounded, wonderful group of artists.”

Brookover and Marc Bosworth are co-curators of the show.

The featured artists were chosen from a group of 100 artists who showcased work in the Hard Hat Party exhibition.

The Hard Hat Party exhibition was one of the first shows held at CityArts after it opened in 1998.

“It was called the Hard Hat Party because the building really wasn’t even completely finished yet,” Bosworth said.

CityArts opened in a purple building at 225 W. Lewis, and in 2004 moved to 334 N. Mead in Old Town Square.

Bosworth said 100 different artists showed one piece each at the Hard Hat Party. He participated in that exhibition, and will also display work in “20x20.”

Over the years, Bosworth, who is primarily a printmaker, has been involved in the Wichita art community and has showed work at CityArts many times. He even got married in the Old Town Square location.

Mary Werner, another exhibitor in “20x20,” has been involved in the Wichita art community for the past 20 years. She is now the director of the Steckline Gallery at Newman University, as well as the university’s director of visual arts.

She remembers the Hard Hat Party:

“The place was packed and it was filled with high-energy,” she said. “People were excited about this new place.”

Werner is a painter and will display oil on canvas pieces in the show. Her work is typically that of “feminist nature.”

“I think my artwork is always very positive and it deals with imagery and the narrative about women's lives,” she said.

Participating in “20x20” will be like a reunion, she said.

“It brings back people who have been involved in the Wichita community for at least 20 years, some probably longer than that,” Werner said.

Sean Jones, programming director at CityArts, said a number of the artists who will exhibit in the show helped CityArts become what it is.

“They were the ones who helped rally the community together to help make CityArts happen,” Jones said.

Brookover said all of these artists are still connected to Wichita, whether they live here or not.

“They’re all still very much active and participants in the local art community in Wichita,” Brookover said. “We have one special artist, Diane Lincoln, who has passed away a few years ago, so we’re showing her work in memoriam and I’m thrilled to have her be a part of this show.”

The exhibition will be on display from January 5-20.

Friday’s launch party will also include an exhibit about the history of CityArts, classroom demonstrations and cupcakes from top-prize winners of the 2017 CityArts Cupcake Challenge.

“It’s such a celebration of CityArts and its history, and all of the wonderful things that we contribute to our community, as well as the support that we have and continue to show local artists,” Brookover said. “It’s really a way for us to showcase what it is we do here.”

Other events will be held throughout the year to commemorate CityArts’ anniversary, including an Off the Wall Silent Auction in March, a Community Art Sale in June, the Cupcake Challenge in August, and a new Pumpkin Fest in October.

JoAn McGregor teaches glass fusing at CityArts. (Video by CityArts)