New chapter for the Art & Book Fair

Written by Karen Long

The smell of ink on pages, the thrill of discovering a new artist, the feel of a spring breeze while strolling through vendor booths and food trucks. Over the past 60 years the Art & Book Fair, a fundraiser started by the Friends of the Wichita Art Museum, has grown from a simple book fair, to a two-day extravaganza celebrating tomes and artistry of all kinds, plus entertainment, food and beverages — all enjoyed at one of the city’s crown jewels on the river, the Wichita Art Museum and its Art Garden.

This year’s event on May 11 and 12 adds even more excitement, says outgoing chair Jill Miller. “Because it’s our 60th year, we’re going to be blowing it out.”

But there’s also another reason: This will be the final year for the Art & Book Fair as we’ve come to know and love it.

Miller says a lot of thought went into the decision but, looking at the big picture, the board eventually determined that, “we’ve been doing this for 60 years and we’ve decided that it’s time to do something new.”

Going out with a bang

The Art & Book Fair has become a beloved Mother’s Day tradition for Wichita families, and this year is sure to delight, with over 40 artists from across the U.S. selling “everything from photography and painting to sculpture, glass and ceramics — all genres of art,” says Miller.

There will also be thousands of books in every imaginable category, which have been donated throughout the year — lavish coffee table art books, yes — but also science, history, fiction, non-fiction and more in every size and description.

“Those books we sell by the bagful,” says Miller.

The planned food truck lineup includes Flying Stove, Camion Coffee, Funky Monkey Munchies, Brown Box Bakery, Giant Lemon Fresh Lemonade Stand, LumpiaPalooza and Wheat Street Dogs.

Enjoy entertainment from local crowd-pleasers such as the Randy Rathbun Group, the Wichita Ukulele Society, Roxy Theater Troupe and Tribe Atomic Belly Dance, and create a special memento of the day in the photo art booth by Linnebur & Miller, where you become a work of art yourself.

The next 60 years

Is Miller ready to paint a picture for 2020?

“No, but we have some really exciting ideas that we’re playing around with. We have a team of people that are working on the next big ideas.”

In the meantime, the book fair side of things will continue — just not over Mother’s Day weekend — in the form of one major book sale annually, in addition to the series of popular Mini Used Book Sales that take place throughout the year. Other Friends of the Wichita Art Museum programs such as Art on a Monday and the Howard E. Wooden Lecture Series will carry on as well.

“We have some really fun ideas we’re playing with.”

General admission to the museum is free during the Art & Book Fair. Entry to the Georgia O'Keeffe special exhibition is $10 for adults and seniors; no charge for children, or students with I.D. For more information visit wichitaartmuseum.org/fair.

Friends of the Wichita Art Museum

As a non-profit, the mission of the Friends is to generate interest in the fine arts and the Wichita Art Museum, while raising money for three endowment funds. One of those funds contributes to every exhibition, including the Georgia O’Keeffe show that opened on March 30. The Friends also acquire artwork for the museum, such as two sculptures in the Art Garden: “Pulse Field“ by Derek Porter and “Wind Screens” by Vicki Scuri.

Other endowments go toward the Howard E. Wooden Lecture Fund to bring in guest curators and art speakers, and another fund supporting the research library.

 
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