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“Fishateria” is delightful and a lot of fun

“Fishateria” is the title of the latest art exhibition at City Arts. This is a big show made up of 57 pieces, by Wichita artist Steve Fairchild.

As you might have guessed from the title, the show features paintings and wonderful metal cutouts of fish—fish in blazing color, surrounded by lush underwater flora and fauna. This work is not a boring, realistic take on the underwater world. This is a world of Fairchild’s design, where ambush predator gar fish with teeth cruise through waters filled with smaller, fatter prey.

Because of the joyful colors used, each painting seems more like a fish fiesta rather than a potential killing field. The gar are long and lithe, with teeth to match, and the smaller fish swim as if happy to still be alive, if only for the moment. Coral, ice blue, and garden green seaweed gently flows through each work, breaking and shaking the picture plain.

The show features work in all sizes, and even features 4 large lightbox works that plug into sockets in the wall. With titles like “Eight Troublemakers On A Mission”, “Blue Water Slackers”, and “Waiting For Nordstroms To Open” you’ll find much humor in this show. This is a show that children would love.

It’s as if Matisse smoked a boatload of cannabis, changed his name to Steve Fairchild, and then rendered 57 paintings for a children’s book. Well, you get the picture.

It’s delightful, and it’s a lot of fun.

“Fishateria” — paintings by Steve Fairchild, on view at City Arts through May.

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.