Public Art in Wichita, Kansas | Exploring the Midwest Podcast Episode 37
Last Updated on February 10, 2022 by Jody Halsted
The city of Wichita, Kansas has a very vibrant arts community as well as CityArts, the city's “creative outlet,” where the entire community can come to be expressive in an affordable and fun way. Alisha Gridley is Education Director and Interim Executive Director of CityArts.
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Public Art in Wichita
The Wichita City Arts Council's slogan is “We Make Art Happen.” The Arts Council has its own Sculpture Walk in downtown Wichita which currently includes 13 sculptures.
Sculptors from throughout Kansas have created these public art pieces that provide a reason for a nice walkabout around the downtown area. The diversity of the pieces, from metalworks to clay to glassblowing, provides a preview of what visitors can find throughout Wichita in terms of artwork.
Gallery Alley provides a vibrant walkthrough and contains different sculptural elements that people can enjoy and use as perfect photo opportunities. Visitors can also see the newly installed Alley Doors, which were a community project where local artists turned unused alley doors into urban art pieces.
Wichita houses over 100 murals, including the largest mural in the world painted on a grain elevator. The Beachner Grain Elevator Mural was painted by GLeo. Take a self-guided tour of all of the murals by checking out the map at VisitWichita.com
Located in Wichita's historic Old Town District is CityArts, a community arts education center with four floors of galleries that rotate exhibits every six weeks. “We have a huge range of artists from around the area that get to showcase their work. They might be seasoned or brand new, never having shown their work before,” says Gridley.
The building also holds three floors of classrooms, which makes art accessible to the community, where they can come in and learn about an art form or technique in a comfortable environment. “We want to take down any intimidation factors that might happen start out trying the arts for the first time,” says Gridley. Classes have included photography, silversmithing, glass fuming, glassblowing, painting, digital arts, pottery and drawing.
In her four years at CityArts, it's been Gridley's main goal to make people more comfortable asking questions and talking about art. “We're that center community place where we can help people learn how to look at art, and they can ask the questions,” says Gridley. “Then when they go to the museums, they know a little bit more about how to view a gallery. So talking about how do artists come into the gallery spaces? How do they prep their work? How do they price their work? And sometimes we just do just basic conversations about looking at the artwork.”
Top Tips for Visiting Wichita
- The Wichita Art Museum offers free admission on Saturdays.
- Driving into Wichita, don't miss the grain elevator mural.
- Stop for some locally roasted coffee and great food in a beautiful setting at Leslie Coffee.
- Check out the vintage shops like The Hereafter.
- Take a nature walk at the Great Plains Nature Center, which is also free.
- Visit Wichita contains a wealth of information for visitors to the area.
- Take a look at the calendar at Wichita Creatives to see upcoming or current creative endeavors going on in Wichita.