A Modern Twist Brought to Topeka’s Oldest Gallery

Modern printmaking is bringing a fresh, new look to the Alice C. Sabatini Gallery located in the Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library from Sep. 7 to Oct. 21.

The Sabatini Gallery is currently hosting The Printed Image 7 which is a juried graphics exhibit that occurs every two years and is currently on its seventh turn. This year’s juror was Melanie Yazzie. She is a printmaker, painter and sculptor whose work has been showcased over 100 times all over the nation, and also internationally. Currently she is a printmaking professor at the University of Colorado.  She selected the prints and judges them, awarding the top three prints. Yazzie had more than 100 artists from 36 states submit 284 entries in this year’s competition and she narrowed it down and selected only 50 prints for the competition.

“We’re always surprised and excited about the art selected and the ideas and techniques these artists are using,” said Sherry Best, collections curator, on the library website.

The art of printmaking is quite a new, modern one. Artist will often try to respond to contemporary life with the prints.It is a medium in which the artist can easily make multiples of the artwork because they are graphic designs, which makes them ideal for sharing ideas with large numbers of people. Due to this, printmakers have been known as social critics that call attention to society’s problems, issues, changes, and challenges.

    “Every year we have either the new prints or new sculptures in our gallery.” Betsey Roe  museum educator and associate curator of collections said. “ I love seeing how the modern art is progressing and evolving over time. It brings a new freshness to the gallery each and every year.”

The library is home to the oldest public art gallery The first pieces were added in 1901 by then library board member Edward Wilder acquired a collection of Art Nouveau glass and ceramics for the libraries permanent collection. Since then paintings, sculptures, prints, glass paperweights, ceramics and much more has been added to the collection.

In 2002 when the Topeka & Shawnee Public Library got a new building, the one that it is currently at, they officially named the gallery in memory of local artist, educator, designer and philanthropist Alice C. Sabatini.

The library board meets every week to discuss and decide which exhibits it wants to bring and curate here in Topeka. According to Roe they have planned out and are currently working on exhibits 3 years out all the way into 2021.

The next exhibit that will be shown in the gallery is Over There: American Abroad in World War I. This traveling exhibitions showcases World War I overseas military photography from the fronts, behind the lines, and the consequences of the war as well as how it was remembered. In the front gallery they will focus on Kansans that went abroad in World War I

The museum is doing an event throughout this exhibit to demonstrate the impact that the war had in so many different people from Kansas. Anybody can come in to the gallery to make paper poppy flowers throughout the run of the exhibit. The goal is to have 1400 poppies made to represent the number of Kansans that participated in the war.

The gallery offers exhibit tours curates specifically to your needs. They also offer art classes for kids and adults, from watercolor to collage, these classes could help one discover a new hobby. They also have lecturers from the gallery staff that can travel and speak at schools i requested.  These resources and more can be found on the official Alice C. Sabatini Gallery website.