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The Ulrich Museum's 'Deep Dive: Selections from the Permanent Collection' is a jackpot of true marvels

Françoise Gilot, "Histoire Naturelle" (1967)
Photo by Curt Clonts
Françoise Gilot, "Histoire Naturelle" (1967) | Ulrich Museum of Art's permanent collection

The staff at the Ulrich Museum on the campus at Wichita State has given us a fantastic gift in the form of an exhibition titled Deep Dive: Selections from the Permanent Collection.

From the museum vault, which contains 6,700 pieces, the staff has chosen works to put on view in the main gallery. The art on view is rarely shown, and it’s a jackpot of true marvels. Among the many on view are three Robert Motherwell paintings that took my breath away. There is a sculpture by Giacometti that brought tears to my eyes. And a painting by Françoise Gilot, who had two children with Picasso, that will haunt me for years. Other names you may recognize: Frankenthaler, Rosenquist, Lichtenstein, Shimomura, Beckman, Agnes Martin, and the list goes on.

Alberto Giacometti, "Awkward Woman" (1949)
Photo by Curt Clonts
Alberto Giacometti, "Awkward Woman" (1949) | Ulrich Museum of Art's permanent collection

I have been in the Ulrich vault on several occasions but never realized the depth of this collection and the powerhouse that it truly is. It further ingrains the fact that the Ulrich is a treasure that may well be taken for granted all too often. I feel that many, if not most museums, fail to show works from their vaults and the deeper collections remain sadly unknown to the outside world. Remarkable art, languishing in obscurity. Exhibition budgets spent on traveling shows that feature this latest trend or that social platform is all part of what museums do, but to miss the opportunity to show what exists in the vaults is a huge mistake. I would be pleased if the Ulrich and WAM would save their budgets and only show what’s in their vaults over the next several years.

Lastly, I wish to congratulate James Porter, Exhibition Designer and Production Manager at the Ulrich. He hangs all the exhibitions at the Ulrich. When you see the layout of this Deep Dive show you will realize how very lucky we are to have him.

Deep Dive: Selections from the Permanent Collection is at the Ulrich through July 30.

Curt Clonts is a Wichita-born artist who volunteers as KMUW's art reviewer. When Curt isn’t working in his College Hill studio he is usually spending time with his wife, kids, and grandkids. He also spends the spring and summer months kayaking and camping.