Painting word pictures

Art and Book Fair comes home to Wichita Art Museum

Written by Karen Long | Photography by David Don Wallace Jr.

Writers are artists of the mind. Imagination is their canvas and words are their paint, bringing to life the sound of a train whistle in a thriller, a lion in a children's book or a cast of small-town characters in a novel.

When you can experience the written word and visual art together under one sweeping roof, what's not to love? And if your mom appreciates words or pictures, the Friends of the Wichita Art Museum are continuing their 55-year tradition of hosting the Art and Book Fair their main fundraiser for the Wichita Art Museum on Mother's Day weekend, May 9 and 10.

But don't go looking at Century II this year: Big changes are taking place, all centered on the "art-scaping" of the Wichita Art Museum grounds, scheduled to be complete in 2016. At that time the Art and Book Fair will premiere outdoors, taking advantage of the newly landscaped sculpture garden with a river view. It'll be an exciting time for the fair to "come back home again," according to publicity chair Diane Post.

"When we thought about moving the artists booths to the beautiful, new environment (and not having to move all those books in the book sale!) it seemed like a perfect solution to our desire to take a fresh look at the event."

That makes this year's event a time of transition a smaller fair, taking advantage of the museum's indoor spaces and focusing on the printed word. The 2015 theme, "Art of the Book" will highlight authors and illustrators. Book lovers can browse donated tomes in the Grand Hall under the Chihuly, circulating among 52 tables groaning with "all genres kids books, art books, bestsellers," says Post. "You name it; we've got it."

Although there won't be sufficient space for the usual artists booths, some of the region's finest are donating pieces under 18" x 18" for a Small Works Marketplace, to be offered for sale in a gallery setting in the museum's Living room section.

"Of course after shopping in the art and book sale, fairgoers will be able to enjoy the amazing exhibits in the museum itself," says Post. Admission to the fair and the museum is free and open to the public both days.

Putting flair in the fair

"We're also excited about new activities that we'll be bringing to the fair," says Post. One new development this year is a partnership with the Tallgrass Film Festival to bring a whole new artistic medium to the Art and Book Fair. The classic film Big Fish will screen in the museum's auditorium at 2 p.m. Saturday and at 11 a.m. Sunday, and admission is free.

Linnebur & Miller will deploy their Art and Photog raphy booth, where for 20 they'll create one-of-a-kind images of fairgoers that are mini works of art.

Amy Woolf, storyteller and puppeteer, and Chris Gulick, artist and performer, will act out stories on Saturday morning from 10 a.m. to noon in the auditorium. Woolf and Gulick are Arts Partners performers from The Griots: Keepers of Stories troupe.

Creative Rush, known for hosting stimulating events featuring area artists, will present a panel discussion from 1:30 to 3 p.m. on Sunday in the auditorium.

Last year the Art and Book Fair drew over 10,000 bibliophiles and artophiles, raising 20,000 for the Wichita Art Museum. While this year's event is a work in progress, the committee is thinking long term. "We are committed to giving the Fair a new feel," says Post, "and bringing it to the grounds of the museum will be a real game changer."

Event information

Wichita Art Museum
1400 West Museum Boulevard

Saturday, May 9, 10 a.m.5 p.m.
Sunday, May 10, 11 a.m.5 p.m.
Admission to the fair and galleries is free both days event information

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