Taking their works on the road: Several Wichita all-star artists are part of Omaha show

In the 30-some years since she moved to Wichita, Rebecca Hoyer has become a recognized name within the local art scene, known for creating colorful, quirky cityscapes inspired by her walks around the College Hill neighborhood.

Hoyer has had several solo shows in Wichita, including one that just ran in March at Reuben Saunders Gallery, 3215 E. Douglas. In 2015, she did two paintings for the Wichita Art Museum to promote its fundraising to create its outdoor sculpture garden.

She’s hoping “Centered,” a new show curated by Reuben Saunders Gallery for an Omaha gallery will give her and other Wichita artists some name recognition beyond Kansas’ borders.

While Reuben Saunders Gallery has become an integral part of Wichita’s art scene since it was founded in 1978, this is the first time it has put together an out-of-town show, said artist and gallery co-owner Trish VanOsdel.

“We wanted to help our Kansas artists spread their wings … so we partnered with Gallery 1516, a beautiful nonprofit that showcases regional works,” VanOsdel said.

The gallery, housed in a former two-story livery stable built in 1883 that later became an International Harvester farm equipment sales and repair shop, is in Omaha’s historic and rejuvenated Old Market area.

“Centered” is on display at Gallery 1516 through May 26; it features nearly 60 works by more than 31 artists with local, Kansas or Nebraska ties.

“To use a sports analogy, it’s like we’ve been playing in a league here in Wichita but now we get to go out of state for a tournament and see how we hold up there,” Hoyer said.

Several of the artists are already considered all-stars among Wichita audiences and collectors: Charles Baughman, Chris Brunner, Curt Clonts, Kevin Kelly, John Oehm, along with Hoyer, to name a few.

For Hoyer and Kelley, this marks the first time they’ve shown works in Nebraska. Clonts had some work shown in Omaha back in the 1990s, he said.

‘I think any time you can connect to a new art community, it’s beneficial,” said Kelly, who has been featured in group and solo exhibits in Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and New York for the past 15 years, including a recent show that just closed on the Butler Community College’s El Dorado campus.

Kelly —who retired last May from 22 years of teaching art at Wichita West High School and now teaches at BCC — will be part of another group exhibition from May 5-June 21 at the Birger Sandzen Memorial Gallery in Lindsborg.

After attending opening receptions for “Centered,” Hoyer, Clonts and Kelly were impressed with the vibrancy of Omaha’s art community. More than a half-dozen works from the show have already been sold.

“I think it’s important regionally,” said Clonts who, like Kelly and Hoyer, has two pieces in “Centered.”

“I tend to think of showing in circles if I can, like Kansas City, to Denver to Dallas to Tulsa. So, this is kind of, for me, a dot on that arc,” Clonts said. “(Omaha) is a great city. It’s a progressive city. And I’m proud to be showing there.”

Anyone planning a trip to Omaha to see “Centered” can check out other art experiences in the city’s Old Market area and elsewhere, including:

  • “Fertile Ground,” a 32,000-square-foot mural considered one of the largest public murals in the country, can be found in Omaha’s Old Market area at 602 N. 13th St.

  • KANEKO, a public, interdisciplinary space that occupies three refurbished historic warehouses at 1111 Jones St. in Omaha’s Old Market. Created by internationally renowned sculptor Jun Kaneko and his wife, Ree, KANEKO’s spring exhibit opens May 9. (thekaneko.org)

  • Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts at 724 S. 12th St. in Old Market, which is open 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesdays-Sundays, with extended hours until 9 p.m. on Thursdays. (bemiscenter.org)

  • Gallery 1516’s free Sunday morning concert series called “Bagels & Sometimes Bach,” which concludes for the spring season on Sunday, May 12. Doors open at 11 a.m., with performances running from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

  • If you visit on one of the first two weekends in May, you can take in Junkstock 2024, which has been rated as a top festival by several lifestyle and living magazines. The festival — which features vintage, antique and junk vendors, makers, food trucks and music — runs May 3-5 and 10-12 at Sycamore Farms, 1150 River Road Drive in nearby Waterloo, Neb. Sycamore Farms is the 135-acre century-old horse farm where the festival founder lives. (junkstock.com)

‘Centered’ at Omaha’s Gallery 1516

What: the first out-of-town show curated and loaned by Wichita’s Reuben Saunders Gallery to highlight Wichita and other regional artists

Where: Gallery 1516, 1516 Leavenworth St., Omaha, Neb.

When: now through May 26, gallery hours are 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays, with appointments preferred

Admission: Free

More info: 531-375-6643 or gallery1516.org