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Events Celebrate Art In Kansas!

Celebrating Kansas artists and the quality of art in our state is the what two exhibits and a two-day art forum intend to do this summer. ART Kansas, a celebration of creating, curating, and collecting Kansas art, will feature some of the state’s most successful and creative working artists in exhibitions during June and July and in workshops and presentations on June 8-9 at McPherson, Kansas.

ART Kansas will include:

  • Gallery exhibit, “The Invitational,” May 29-July 29 in Friendship Hall on the McPherson College campus, featuring the works of more than 65 Kansas artists and curated by Jay Nelson, recently retired director of the Strecker-Nelson Gallery in Manhattan.
  • Gallery exhibit, “Four Apart,” May 29-July 29, at McPherson Museum, featuring the works of Louis Copt, Stephen Johnson, Carol Long and husband and wife artists Barbara Waterman-Peters and Larry Peters.
  • ART Kansas Gala, June 8 at 5 p.m., Mingeback Theatre, McPherson College. Artists receptions at Friendship Hall and the McPherson Museum will kick off an evening, which will also feature a gala dinner, Keynote Speaker Chuck Comeau, owner of Dessin Fournir in Plainville, Kansas, and the premiere of Larry Hatteberg’s video, “Banking on Art,” in celebration of Mike Michaelis, Kansas art collector and CEO of Emprise Bank. Tickets for the event are available online at
  • ART Kansas Forum, June 9, 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m., McPherson College. The forum will feature workshops and presentations by Kansas artists who will both demonstrate and speak about creating, collecting and curating. All workshops and presentations are free and open to the public.

The event was conceived by Michaela Valli Groeblacher, assistant professor of art at McPherson College, in collaboration with Jay Nelson, long-time director of the Streckler-Nelson Gallery in Manhattan, and Karla Prickett, studio artist and visual arts consultant of Salina. Groeblacher said she was inspired by the state’s rich art history and the quality of art produced by its artists.

“I think some people discount the quality of art in our state,” she said. “Kansas has a long history of art and we have very talented artists creating art today. We want to showcase that and help people become more aware of the quality of work in our state.”

Kansas art has historical roots in McPherson and made sense for the event to be hosted here, according to Groeblacher. In the early 1900s, Carl Smalley, the son of a McPherson seed dealer, launched one of the most significant periods of Kansas art. He started collecting and selling prints in his father’s seed store and eventually his art dealings took over the entire business. He started friendships with many of the artists, including Birger Sandzén, and helped found the Prairie Printmakers, arguably the most famous and influential group of artists in the state’s history.

Smalley’s influence can be seen today as it inspires other collectors of Kansas art, like Emprise Bank President Michaelis, who will be honored at the ART Kansas gala dinner. Michaelis has been collecting and sharing Kansas art for decades. Much of his collection, which includes the works of more than 500 Kansas artists, is on display in Emprise Bank locations. Art from the collection has also been displayed at art galleries and libraries across the state. A documentary about Michaelis has been produced by Larry Hatteberg and will be premiered during the ART Kansas gala dinner on Friday, June 8.

“As an artist, you need the support of collectors,” Groeblacher said. “Mike Michaelis has been collecting the works of Kansas artists for decades and also shares his art with the public. We are very excited to celebrate his years support of Kansas art.”

Celebrating Kansas art will continue on Saturday, June 9 with a day full of workshops and presentations by Kansas artists. Presenters include the artists and curator of the “Four Apart” exhibition and topics range from ceramics demonstration to the “context of creativity” to the “art of curating.” All workshops are free and anyone can attend.

“The workshops on Saturday are not just about making art,” Groeblacher said. “They will cover the entire spectrum of art. Artists, collectors, art lovers, anybody can attend. There will be something for everyone.”

More information about all of the events can be found at