Wichita Art Museum paints way to fantastic visit

Wichita Art Museum

The first thing we noticed as we walked into the Wichita Art Museum was the Chihuly blown glass art display immediately above the entrance. It extends from the exterior door to a little short of the admissions desk.

Chihuly bridge

The artwork is actually part of a bridge on the second floor. It was beautiful. Not satisfied with a great presentation as a bridge and ceiling, another Chihuly piece hangs from the second floor ceiling.

Chihuly from the ceiling

These were a great start to a wonderful museum visit. The Wichita Art Museum was opened in 1935 with a donation from the estate of Louise Caldwell Murdock. The donation was to start a public art collection for the city. It’s the largest art museum in Kansas.

The museum has grown over the years. It has undergone expansions twice – in the 1970s and 2003. It is located a short walk from the riverfront.

Wichita Art Museum

The museum has some excellent permanent collections, including a 20-piece exhibit of Charles Russell’s western views. In a small gallery, the works are well-presented. His paintings and sculptures describe the lives of both cowboys and Native Americans. I am a fan of his work.

Charles Russell

“Indian Buffalo Hunt” was painted in 1897. It tells the story of the Native Americans’ reliance on bison for survival.

A sculpture I personally like is “Bronc Twister.” I like the look of the horse trying to get rid of its rider and the cowpoke hanging on for dear life as he tries to break the bronco.

Bronc Twister

A modern art look into recent Wichita history includes the artwork of Billy Morrow Jackson. “Moments” covered the history of Wichita – from its days to the 1970s. Morrow painted himself into the artwork.

Billy Morrow Jackson

The museum has a gallery of traditional historical art pieces.

Art gallery

We found a June Kaneko sculpture piece during our visit. Kaneko is an Omaha-based artist. We’ve visited his gallery here.

June Kaneko sculpture

Another gallery had some interesting pieces. “Story telling” highlights simple views that tell a larger tale. One exhibit was a sculpture of a woman sitting on the edge of her bed.

Storytelling pieces at Wichita Art Museum

A “Kansas cornfield” painting tells a story from the Great Depression. It was painted in 1933 by Kansas native John Curry. Curry also worked as an illustrator for the “Saturday Evening Post.”

Kansas cornfield at Wichita Art Museum

A painting that spoke to me was a simple portrait of “A Negro Man.” The 1936 piece by Peggy Martin Nichols seemed real. I felt for the man in the painting. Life was not fair to him, in my view.

painting at Wichita Art Museum

An orange piece provided a nice background for some pieces in front of it. “Kesoo” is a piece by American artist Natvar Bhavsar, and was created in 1977.

Kesoo at Wichita Art Museum

A special exhibition gallery features the work of Norman Rockwell and Georgia O’Keefe, among others.

We enjoyed our visit to the Wichita Art Museum. Admission is free on Saturdays. Otherwise, please visit the website at www.wichitaartmuseum.org for fees, hours and other information regarding the museum