Artists in town and abroad donate work to upcoming Mulvane art auction


Matthew L. Self

100 Minus 3: Barbara Waterman-Peters stands by her artwork which she titled “Lilies”. Art pieces submitted by other artists are arranged behind her as well in the Rita Blitt Art Gallery.

The Mulvane Art Museum is hosting an online art auction this week with bids for submitted artwork closing this Friday on June 4 at 8 p.m.

Substituting the Summer Art Fair hosted by the Mulvane Art Museum, the art auction will feature the work of artists from the local community and from other corners of the U.S. who have strong ties to the museum.

Artists like Barbara Waterman-Peters have donated their recent work to the auction to help support the museum.

“It’s creating something unique,” said Waterman-Peters. “I think it’s the whole, the whole process, and the privilege of being able to do something I love. Not many people get to do that.”

Connie Gibbons, the Director for the Mulvane Art Museum, said that the auction was being held to help raise money for the museum as it gets much of its operating costs covered by the art fair held every year.

“Usually we raise about $40,000 a year from the art fair,” said Gibbons. “We’ve lost two years in a row that it’s been canceled. So that’s close to $100,000. We start to feel it because we don’t have a huge budget, we don’t have a huge staff and it really impacts our abilities to do programs.”

Most of the artwork that was submitted for the auction has been generously donated by the artists with most donating 100% of the proceeds from the sale to the Mulvane Art Museum.

One of the artists, Becky Drager, recently donated her artwork to the university: a very lifelike portrait of Washburn’s President Jerry Farley. This is currently on display in the Memorial Union at Washburn and while it is not for sale through the auction, participants can still donate to the art piece.

“She did a whole series of paintings of influential people in Topeka over the last year and one of the last ones she did for that series was of Dr. Farley,” said Gibbons. “It’s a really awesome painting. It really captures Dr. Farley’s character.”

Drager said that she considered it an honor to have some of her artwork put on display at Washburn and contribute to the art auction.

“I think somewhere like in April, it was time to decide which painting I was going to donate and I decided to donate Dr. Farley’s portrait to the art exhibit,” said Drager. “Then they came back with the idea to take Dr. Farley’s portrait and make it part of the Mulvane art collection.”

Waterman-Peters’ art piece, “Lilies”, is one of the paintings currently up for bids on the Mulvane Art Museum’s website. She said that she loved the process of creating a painting and watching it come into existence.

She shared an experience she had that gave her the inspiration for her artwork.

“The other day, at the symphony in the Flint Hills show opening, all of the artists were given a little potted flower as a thank-you gift,” said Waterman-Peters. “Well, I assumed it wasn’t going to last very long. So I took it home and took photographs from several angles and different lights. I’m doing a painting that gives these flowers, these things that were alive, have given the world their beauty, that gives them a second life. That gives them a little bit of immortality.”

Currently, you can view the artwork for the auction online here or visit the Rita Blitt Gallery at White Concert Hall on Washburn’s campus to view them in person. You can also place bids for the artwork by downloading an app called Greater Giving.

For more information on the ongoing art auction and to see which artists have submitted work, click here.

“For a relatively small investment, not a lot of money, you can own an original piece of art and it will support the artists,” said Gibbons.

Edited by: Madison Dean