Art Without Walls

Sep 30, 2015

KMUW art reviewer Lindsey Herkommer-DeVries looks at a new outdoor display.

The weather was perfect for the opening of the Wichita Art Museum’s new Art Garden. This $3.5 million dollar landscape re-design was completely funded by patrons from our community. It took years to plan, but the work paid off and now we are all richer.

The opening was a grand affair with events through the day. The newly designed, 8-acre garden uses native Kansas plants. Visitors will find 11 sculptures there– two of which were newly commissioned specifically for the museum grounds.

The first is at the museum entrance. It’s called Pulse Field, and it’s by artist Derek Porter. A collection of tall metal poles perforate the now-undulating ground. Each has a light on top that pulse like fireflies at night. It recalls works like Walter de Maria’s Lightning Field, but it's installed organically for a closer melding with nature.

The second is a new commission by artist Vick Scuri. Scuri is not a new artist to Wichita. She also created the airy, 65-foot-tall stainless steel sculptures on the Douglas Bridge that crosses the Arkansas River.

Her work for the Art Garden, called Wind Screens, uses the weathered steel and scale of a Richard Serra piece. Yet, she perforates the material with a pattern of circles that makes the material look more like lace than steel.

Art gardens are wonderful spaces to welcome guests and to have events, but most of all, they give us art without walls. The art interacts freely with the environment, and its changing surroundings alter the art’s meaning or look. Visitors will build relationships with the art that renew again and again.