When Mark Arts opened its new building in 2018 at 13th and Rock in east Wichita, staff threw an open house to unveil their new digs. They planned another open house for a day this fall — this one in conjunction with the 100th anniversary since the founding of the arts organization — but as the year progressed it became clear they couldn’t hold an event that would attract hundreds of people in the span of a few hours.
Instead, a week-long hybrid open house was born.
Tuesday through Saturday, you can go online to see demonstrations and tours designed to introduce you to Mark Arts’ School of Creativity, current exhibitions on display in the galleries, their study collection and the spaces available for rent as an event venue. You can also register for a couple of in-person activities that have limited capacity.
“Our goal with Open House Week is to provide art outreach to the community at large and spark further interest in arts education,” said Katy Dorrah, executive director of the regional arts hub. “With all of our classes, exhibitions and events, there truly is something for everyone at Mark Arts.”
There are four to five events scheduled each day Tuesday through Saturday, from tours broadcast on Facebook Live to technique demonstrations from instructors via Zoom.
There’s also a billboard-size impressionistic landscape painting being created on Mark Arts’ north lawn throughout the week that you can watch, or if you’re able to nab one of the 30 public spots available you can help artist Charles Baughman paint.
Instructional art demos include: sculpture, figurative sculpture, Tallgrass Prairie Press printmaking, mixed media, teen painting with thread, jewelry and metalsmithing, abstract painting, drawing fundamentals, processes in collaging, color mixing, enameling, wheel throwing and culinary art.
There’s a question-and-answer session with an event planner and a behind the scenes look at the facilities with a wedding planner.
Virtual tours cover the art vault, which houses Mark Arts’ study collection that is not on public view; the outdoor sculpture garden; and the James Anthony Parker Collection of enamel and ceramic works on exhibit in the School of Creativity gallery.
There is an in-person version of the sculpture garden tour at 9 a.m. Saturday, with 15 spots available. The two public sessions for painting with Baughman are 12:15 to 1 p.m. Tuesday and 1 to 1:45 p.m. Saturday. All open house activities are free and pre-registration is required for in-person and Zoom events. Find the full schedule at markartsks.com/openhouse.
Also, throughout the week and extending to the end of October, you can tour “Solid Ground: The Art of Mark Flickinger & Denise M. Irwin,” which features new paintings and ceramics that address concepts of water and form. It is in Mark Arts’ main gallery, which requires an appointment by calling 316-634-2787 during gallery hours, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is free.
The public is also invited to stop by the tent on the lawn closest to 13th Street to watch Baughman and community groups of all ages painting a 14 foot by 36 foot impressionistic landscape painting called “After the Storm.” Painting will happen throughout the day Tuesday through Saturday. The same masking and distancing guidelines that Mark Arts has inside will be instituted outside, too.
Once it’s completed, the painting will be installed inside Gladys and Karl T. Wiedemann Gallery on a wall visible from the street, opposite the Art to the City video board that will show a time lapse video of the painting process. Organizers expect the piece to remain on view for about six months.
Chloe Gutmann, Mark Arts’ program director, said Baughman approached Mark Arts with the idea for the large-scale artwork for this specific space. A nationally known, contemporary, abstract expressionist painter and long-time art educator, Baughman co-owns and operates the Monart School of Art at the Art Park in northeast Wichita.
“Charles created ‘After the Storm’ for this project and it’s representative of his work – it’s a prairie landscape painted in a Jackson Pollockesque style,” she said, adding that he paints using only his hands and paint sticks. “It’s a prairie scene with a sunset that has lots of blues and purples and oranges and high contrast colors that will bring totally new energy to that intersection at 13th and Rock.”
Mark Arts Open House Week
When: Tuesday-Saturday, Oct. 6-10
How much: Free demonstrations and tours, online and in-person at 1307 N. Rock
Schedule and registration: markartsks.com/openhouse