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An Artist's Perspective: Collecting Local Art

Curt Clonts

I moved back to Wichita from Texas in 1991 after having left in 1978. I had been a working artist in Texas but knew not one local artist upon my return to this, my hometown.

I kept to myself, made art, and had one solo show in 1994. In 1995 my wife and I ventured out to a local show. It was at a place called The Go Away Garage and it was a show for a local artist’s co-op called The Famous Dead Artists. It was there that we bought our first piece of locally made art: an engraving by Leigh Layton Wallace titled “A Few Of My Favorite Personal Demons." The work was phenomenal in detail and quality and priced at $90. This purchase was the beginning of our collecting sickness, an affliction that has brought us pure delight for 25 years.

Monday night I counted 66 pieces of local art in our living and dining rooms alone — paintings, pottery, photographs, and sculptural items. Not one would I consider parting with. Artists from the Fisch Haus, FDA, Project, Acme, Trish Higgins, EVO, and Reuben Saunders Gallery are all here, and more. So many became close friends. Some in our collection, like Diane Thomas Lincoln, Shirley Glickman, Byron Smith, and John Boyd, great friends, sadly are gone.

Our collection marks time and greatly reflects an important and explosive time in Wichita arts. Our collection reflects what’s most important to us and that is the many valuable friendships we have made along the way. And we continue to buy works from newer artists in the city that we don’t personally know so well yet but who continue to carry the torch for a local arts scene rich in quality and cutting edge vision.

I wake to the fact, every day, that we are lucky to live in a city with such a rich, vibrant art scene. And this tradition carries on.