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I absolutely love Alfred Maurer's work in the 'Paper Dreams' exhibit at WAM

A piece of paper is often thought of as disposable. Write on it, make a mistake, wad it up, and throw it away. As an artist I often sketch on paper. I take a pencil, a piece of charcoal, or a brush dipped in paint and work with abandon to capture an idea or create what I see before me. What comes from the exercise is always raw and usually remains in the sketchbook or gets thrown into a drawer in my studio. But once in a while, the sketch appears deeper, more unusual, and the paper is suddenly more sacred to me. I work deeper into the piece, refining it, until it becomes something I’m proud of and proud to share with an audience. I always gravitate towards works on paper first in every exhibition I view. To me, this is where the artist’s ferocity and height of originality lies—on paper rather than formal canvas.

The Wichita Art Museum currently has its galleries packed with such adventure on paper with an exhibition titled “Paper Dreams: Alfred Maurer and American Masterpieces.” Maurer paints with gouache on paper and it's almost as if the works were never meant to be seen. The lines in the portraits and landscapes are quick. The color used by Maurer is like a flash and on fire. The faces long and eyes quickly rendered. The eyes more a study than refined. Trees with quick, odd bends. Many of the works started as wet and saturated. In fact, some of the framed works show the paper buckled, not flat. It’s very exciting because the quick energy of Maurer’s hand and the sheer love of painting is all starkly apparent. I absolutely love this work. And I was left with no other choice than to go directly to my studio and paint.

“Paper Dreams: Alfred Maurer” is at The Wichita Art Museum through January 22nd.

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.