Last Wednesday, Jim Richardson, a Kansas native from Lindsborg, spoke at the Gallery Opening of the Emporia Arts Center.
“He talked about back in his day… as a young adolescent driving around Kansas, going on vacation with his family, they’d stop at a restaurant or gas station and there would be calendars and photos all over the walls. And those images would be of the Colorado Rocky Mountains… as we approach these 150 years (of Kansas statehood) this year, that these works are somewhat of a beginning of Kansans recognizing that we’ve got something too… we no longer have to hang the Rocky Mountains in our restaurants,” said Susan Brinkman, assistant director of the Center for Great Plains Studies.
The Center for Great Plains Studies has been working on a photo project of the Great Plains region for the past four years. They applied for a grant to move the online photo gallery into a tangible space. The ESU Endowment Office granted them financial aid through the Katherine K. White Faculty Incentive Grant Program.
The Center for Great Plains Studies approached the Emporia Arts Council with the idea to open a show in their new gallery space, allowing local artists to be represented without emphasizing a specific one. The show offered versatility by featuring photos of Kansas by photographers from Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota and Ohio.
Jim Hoy, professor of English, found it appealing that “the photographers ranged from professionals to amateurs.”
Melissa Windsor, executive director of the Emporia Arts Council, was “thrilled” with the idea. “The quality of work was fabulous,” Windsor said.
Jim Richardson was the juror for the show “Iconic Kansas.” Hoy said he has been in contact with him “off and on” for the past six years for resources of two articles he wrote for National Geographic in 2003 and again in 2007.
The grant issued to the Center for Great Plains Studies was not only to move the online project into a real space and to celebrate the sesquicentennial of Kansas’ statehood, but also to bring a renowned photographer into the process.
Everyone involved in the process felt that it ran very smoothly and was an evening to be proud of. The transformation of the space and the excitement of the 100 plus turnout was overwhelming for the staff of the Emporia Arts Center, as well as Hoy and Brinkman.
The Grand Opening of the Emporia Arts Center will take place at 5 p.m. on Jan. 28. Tickets are $30 per person or $50 per couple.
‘Seldom is heard a Discouraging Word’
“Iconic Kansas” marked the opening of the gallery of the Emporia Arts Center Jan. 19. However, with the suggestion of Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback to cut federal art funding programs such as the Kansas Arts Commission, the question of “How iconic can Kansas really be?” is raised among Emporia artists.
“It sucks…. for fellow students that are here and future students who are wanting to come to this area, it will discourage them – it’s very discouraging to even want to come to school here in Kansas for art,” said Christa Westbrook, senior glass and sculpture major.
A Facebook event swept through last week entitled “Protest Phasing Out of KS Funding for the ARTS!” and many students are fighting back by writing letters to their local representatives.
Melissa Windsor also voiced concerns for the new and growing Emporia Arts Center. She said nearly $30,000 is given annually to the Arts Council, making a new arts center available. If these funds are cut, a cut in services (personnel and programs) is sure to follow.
By Brianne Simon
Video by Kellen Jenkins