Locals can see the original artwork of Garden City and Kansas artists around town Friday as a part of Garden City Arts’ monthly First Friday Art Walk.
From 4 to 8 p.m. Friday, local business and public spaces will stay open into the evening to show off new paintings and photographs that will light up their walls for the next several weeks. High Plains Public Radio will be open from 4 to 6 p.m., the Garden City Community College Mercer Art Gallery, Patrick Dugan’s Coffee House and the Finney County Courthouse from 5 to 7 p.m. and Garden City Arts from 6 to 8 p.m.
Here’s what will be shown at each location.
HPPR: Maria Juana, of Garden City
Maria Juana’s work is not confined to a single medium or scope. Her work featured in downtown Garden City’s HPPR station includes an acrylic painting on a triangular canvas, a watercolor landscape and monograph print, and a booming 4-foot by 6-foot oil painting.
Juana has been an artist since she was a kid, starting with sketches, but only began painting four years ago during a Garden City Arts class. Today, her work is expansive, drawing from empathy and memory.
The giant oil painting, “Cartone Animato Portofino,” was inspired by the time she heard Italian singer Andrea Bocelli sing “Love in Portofino” at a live concert, and one featuring cacti pulled from her family’s drives to Mexico. Seeing the tall, desert plants in the dark, she and her brother thought they were alive. Juana’s print of a cracking mind spilling monsters and detached scenes is meant to connect with her family members who struggle with anxiety in depression, while others play with cartoons, popular and imaginary.
“Hopefully they enjoy my art and they remind them of when they were kids, too … I think it can make them feel better,” Juana said.
GCCC Mercer Art Gallery: Ron Carlson and Linda Adams, of Garden City
Garden City artist Linda Adams and GCCC computer science instructor Ron Carolson, already a duo in life and music, this year became a duo in art. The pair of trained musicians in search of another creative outlet sat down last summer to teach themselves art and, months later, emerged with more than 100 pieces, many of which will debut Friday at the Mercer for the pair’s first show.
The pieces in the exhibition, “Red and Other Colors,” range from impressionistic and abstract acrylic paints and printmaking sporting what Carlson said has become his favorite color, in regards to art, at least. As he and Adams near their first show, he said he is excited for what comes next in their creative journey.
“For me, (art is) like doing music. It’s a chance to be expressive. It’s a chance to improvise. It’s a chance to try to portray structure, styles. I think it’s almost like a kind of meditation when you're focusing on creating some work. And so it slows down your mind in a way that allows you to think more clearly and focus,” Carlson said.
And he looks forward to working with more colors, blending them into thousands of new possibilities.
“To me, it’s amazing,” Carlson said. “It’s like taking three notes in music and making a whole orchestra.”
Patrick Dugan’s Coffee House: Crystal Socha, of Augusta
Crystal Socha’s photographs echo and seize the Flint Hills she sees everyday. Riding the plains on horseback with a saddlebag full of camera equipment, she has captured cattle drives before sunrise, the unique Kansas landscape and ranchers purging the land with fire to build a more nutritious environment for their cattle. Socha is an award-winning photographer of 16 years, skilled in developing film and shooting digitally.
Sometimes she’ll explore the hills in a car instead of a horse, windows down and relaxed. The land, the one featured in her work, is one that outsiders don’t always think of when they think of Kansas, and she wants to change that. The Kansas she knows is deeply calm, rolling and beautiful.
“It’s just seeing what Kansas really does look like,” Socha said of her work. “It’s seeing Kansas off of the highways … It has so much to offer to a lot of people if they just slowed down and took the time to look at it.”
Finney County Courthouse: Scott Reiter, of Dodge City
Scott Reiter’s photography also focuses on landscapes, as well as macro close-ups of what lives on them, from flowers to insects, he said. Reiter, assisted by his wife, Joani, has been in photography for about 35 years, and he uses the skill to introduce near and far-off places to those who may miss them.
Reiter’s Art Walk display includes nearby scenes — a flock of juncos in his yard and red sunsets and a nearly complete solar eclipse over Kansas wildfires. But some are less familiar: arches and canyons. Even the close-ups can seem foreign, transforming a bug usually brushed away into an intricate, life-size face, unique and colorful.
The photographer prints his photos across many mediums, including photo paper, canvas and metal, the latter giving the pieces a unique shine, he said. Whatever the piece, he wants people to get acquainted with beautiful things and places.
“Well, I think people get really comfortable where they live and don’t even ponder that there’s a bigger world out there … There’s a lot of stuff for us to appreciate and try to experience. And I think maybe we bring some of that to people with the photography. At least they can see it and appreciate, even if it’s just hanging on the wall,” Reiter said.
Garden City Arts: Deb Huber, of Garden City
Deb Huber’s “In My Backyard,” doubling as the key display of the Beef Empire Days Art Show, presents western Kansas as she and her neighbors see it, from the cattle industry to the sandhills to the wildlife — foxes and watermelon-stealing coyotes — that runs through her neighborhood. Huber’s works are part-paintings, part-sculptures, she said — textured, finger-painted canvases made real with her hands, fingers and fingernails.
Huber’s paintings are about noticing and experiencing the beauty in front of you. Most of the pieces are of animals — cattle, livestock, a puppy and fox — though others pull from Garden City itself. One, “A Walk in the Park,” is a scene of trees from the ground, inspired by Stevens Park.
Huber has been painting, self-taught, for 20 years, after being struck with inspiration on the French countryside with her daughter. She was 40 then, and this will be her first solo show at Garden City Arts. No one should be afraid to try something entirely new, no matter where they are in life, she said.
“(I hope people) just take in your surroundings and see the wonder in the small things that are around us, and be inspired by the emotions that that generates,” Huber said.