2015 promises to be a year full of exciting exhibitions and fresh perspectives in visual art for Wichita. While hundreds of shows are sure to captivate our collective sepia, following are five that you’ll definitely want to see. They’ll take you from communism to digitalism, inside the lens of a bygone era and on an imaginative, retrospective tour. There’s also a “beast” of a show in the works from a favorite art duo. Here are this year’s can’t-miss art happenings.
▪ Photographic Wonders: American Daguerreotypes from the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art: Long before Instagram, there was the advent of the daguerreotype in 1839. The invention was just as magical then as digitally-enhancing smartphone photo apps are today. Hailed as the first photographic process, it utilized an iodine-sensitized silvered plate and mercury vapor to produce images. This exhibit will feature 82 daguerreotypes from the Nelson-Atkins collection and offer a glimpse into a long-gone epoch in imagery.
Details: Jan. 17-May 10, Wichita Art Museum, 1400 W. Museum Blvd.; www.wichitaartmuseum.org or 316-268-4921
▪ Evan Roth: Intellectual Property Donor: What happens when free media mixes with artistic intrigue? Evan Roth is about to show us. In this exhibit, viral media becomes art, graffiti intersects with technology, and free culture collides with popular culture. It’s a show that explores our evolving relationship with art in the digital age. Dubbed a “hacker’s delight,” the nationally touring exhibit showcases Roth’s recent works from 2009 to 2014, including sculptures made from motion-tracked graffiti data, an installation where visitors can create their own TED talks, and ink prints that chronicle the movements required to make it through the 300 levels of the popular video game “Angry Birds.”
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Details: Jan. 24-April 12, Ulrich Museum of Art at Wichita State University, 1845 Fairmount; www.ulrich.wichita.edu or 316- 978-6462
▪ Larry Schwarm and Students: Travels in Cuba: U.S. relations with Cuba are a hot topic in the news, and if you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to visit, you can soon see for yourself. Last summer, Larry Schwarm, professor of photography at Wichita State University, took several students on a trip to Cuba. This exhibit documents images they captured, offering viewers a vibrant window into a culture few in the U.S. have had an opportunity to experience. These images offer a striking visual gateway into a society full of dichotomies. Among the photographers exhibiting will be Newman University student Gloria Esparsa.
Details: Feb. 27-March 20, Newman University’s Steckline Gallery, 3100 McCormick; www.newmanu.edu/stecklinegallery or 316-942-4291
▪ Charles Baughman Retrospective: If you’ve studied art locally, there’s a good chance Charles Baughman has been your teacher at some point. He’s been an instructor at the Wichita Art Museum, Wichita State University, Cowley Community College, Butler Community College, Wichita Center for the Arts and Friends University. This spring, CityArts will host a retrospective of his works from the past 25-plus years. Passions mix with paint in an exhibit that demonstrates the colorful, transfixing world of his art, which profiles happy animals, surrealist cameras, whimsical instruments and entrancing yoga poses, among other works.
Details: March 27-April 18, CityArts, 334 N. Mead
▪ Dustin Parker & Greg Turner: The Two Headed Beast: Dustin Parker and Greg Turner, friends who have exhibited together several times in the past, are busy creating oozing ogres and other creatures as they “prepare to conquer Wichita” with their next exhibit this spring. A year in the making, “Two Headed Beast” promises mutant monsters and bizarre amalgamations of randomness as each puts his unique style to canvass.
Details: April 24-May 15, Newman University’s Steckline Gallery, 3100 McCormick; www.newmanu.edu/stecklinegallery or 316-942-4291