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Art: A New Era In Wichita

Abode of Chaos (thierry ehrmann) / Flickr

Looks like we’ve survived another apocalypse! Or, really, the apocalyptic hype of the Maya calendar, which concluded its 13th b’aktun (a time period of about 393 years) on December 21, 2012. Since this date, holiday meals have been eaten and presents exchanged, and now we, too, turn to face our new year.  And, as the Maya elders state, we enter into a new era where a better world is possible.

This is evident right here in Wichita’s art scene. Patricia McDonnell is at the helm of the Wichita Art Museum, sailing it toward a new and bright future. The recently hired Director of the Ulrich Museum, Bob Workman, takes over in January, and a new contemporary art curator is also in our near future. 2013 begins a new era for both institutions.

Arts funding that was once summarily removed from the state budget is now returning – albeit slowly, but at least there is movement toward restoring the state support of the arts. Again, this shift signals the end of an era and beginning of a new one for the arts in Kansas.

Is the timing of these events linked to the complex Maya calendar? Well, no, not directly. But in a cosmic way, there is some serendipity. It is amazing how our ancient cultures still have the power to ignite our imagination, and perhaps Pre-Columbian art can provide fresh insights into the beauty and humanity that will propel us forward into this optimistic new era.

And, as it just so happens, the Wichita Art Museum has a great exhibition of art from the ancient cultures of Mexico and Central America held in their permanent collection.