Mulvane features variety for First Friday

Kate Fechter

The Mulvane Art Museum has something for almost everyone right now. If you have an interest in pop culture, pottery in different shapes and sizes, textiles, artists from Kansas or Chinese art you will like at least one, if not all, of the current exhibits.

Friday February 4 was First Friday and the Mulvane held an opening reception for the four newest exhibits: ‘Remember My Name’, ‘Words with Different Scenes- Four Artists from China’, ‘David Hicks Overmeyer-A Kansas Original’ and the ‘Surface and Form’ exhibit. The event lasted from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. inside the museum and drew a healthy sized crowd.

‘Remember My Name’ is on the first level and is a part of the extensive Beatles’ memorabilia collection that belongs to avid Beatles collectors and Topeka residents Ron Russell and Tony Wedeking. The exhibit includes: posters, tickets, toys, albums and other memorabilia and is meant to chronicle the history of the Beatles and their impact on music and art.

“He [Wedeking] has been collecting close to 40 years and I’ve been doing it about 30,” said Russell, who, along with Wedeking, was at the opening. “So you are talking about 70 years worth of collecting. Sad to say, but we’re still collecting.”

He said that his favorite piece changes daily but talked about the ‘John Lennon: Free as a Bird’ piece as his favorite that evening. Russell was enthusiastic about the opening and sharing his collection with a diverse crowd that was in attendance.

“I think it’s been great; such a large mix of people of different ages and different backgrounds,” said Russell.

Upstairs is the other three exhibits. ‘Words with Different Scenes’ is a collection of art from four artists from China: Ying Jiang, Jianxun Li, Li Jiang and Zhigang Tang. The work includes different paintings of different, colorful subjects and a large hand stamped piece on rice paper.

Li Jiang is an associate professor at the University of Electronic Science and Technology in China and has paintings in the permanent collection of the Shanghai Art Museum and the Art Museum of China. Tang teaches painting at the art academy at Chengdu University and is a member of the Chinese Artists Association. He and Jiang will be visiting Washburn this semester.

Li is a still life painter and is also a member of the Chinese Artists Association. Ying Jiang is the creator of the hand stamped piece and uses her hand stamping technique to create a language to decode Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism.

In another gallery is the ‘Surface and Form’ exhibit. This exhibit contains the work of potter Danny Meisinger, hand-built works of clay by Cathy Broski and fabric art by David Brackett.

Meisinger, who will be doing a demonstration at the Art Building on campus February 16, creates pottery of all shapes and sizes and says he is only limited by the size of his kiln. He owns a gallery and commercial space ‘Dolphin Song’ in Gardner, Kansas but spent much of his career displaying his works at fairs and is enjoying seeing his work at the museum.

“It’s a departure from how I’ve normally, over the last 20 years, presented my work,” said Meisinger. “I’ve mostly done fairs and have just now started to do galleries. They look better in this setting than in the street.”

Broski creates hand-built pieces that start from clay slabs and her pieces are in the shape of waves, boats, dogs and people. Each represents a metaphor. Boats are a metaphor for life’s journey, dogs and people are the fun part of our soul and birds are our inner voice. She uses slips and glazes that she wipes down to make her pieces look like they are a museum piece dug up from an excavation.

Broski talked about how pleased she was with the exhibit and also how she felt that all the artists’ pieces complement each other.

“I think the room is an amazing space,” said Broski. “I think they [the Mulvane] did a really good job, especially with the colors of each of our work. All three of us complement each other even though we work in three totally different ways.”

Rounding out ‘Surface and Form’ is the fabric work of University of Kansas professor David Brackett. Brackett creates a collage of fabrics from hand-woven fabric and fabrics he designed that are created at industrial mills. He talked about the meaning behind his work as well.

“In terms of content, it has to do with a lot about chance and how nature uses chance to create patterns that don’t repeat,” said Brackett. “I’m sort of equating that to the way we live our lives. I have a lot of images from my life and sort of juxtaposing things in randomness versus order.”

Also on display are works by Topeka native David Hicks Overmeyer. Several of the pieces are from the Mulvane’s permanent collection and some are pieces from other private collections.

Overmeyer, who lived from 1889-1973, was recognized throughout Kansas for his work as an artist, muralist and illustrator. He even has eight murals in the Capitol building; each mural displays an important point in Kansas history involving the pioneers and Native Americans.

Washburn art majors Matthew Linn and Dan Ornelas were at the opening and gave their opinions on the exhibits.

“I’m blown away by the details in the Chinese paintings,” said Linn, 25, a senior with an emphasis in sculpture. “I am really blown away. It’s really nice to see some foreign art.”

Linn also said that he was amazed by the pottery, especially the large pieces.

“Nothing is ever taller than me,” said Linn. “I’m 6’3′ and it’s wonderful to see a perfume bottle that is seven feet tall.”

Ornelas shared Linn’s enthusiasm over the ‘Surface and Form’ exhibit and also commented on the Beatles’ memorabilia and the Chinese exhibit.

“I find the Beatles exhibit to be interesting because it’s a large collection of Beatles stuff I have never seen,” said Ornelas, 21, a junior with an emphasis in drawing and painting. “The Chinese exhibit I really like because of the realism, the colors and it’s not being from here.”

‘Remember My Name’ opened on January 22 and will be on display until March 20. ‘Surface and Form,’ ‘David Hicks Overmeyer: A Kansas Original’ and “Words with Different Scenes- Four Chinese Artist’ will be on display until May 22. For more information, including museum hours go to

When asked if he thought students would like the exhibits, Ornelas said he would definitely encourage others to see them.

“Definitely,” said Ornelas. “Definitely check it out.”