Art professor enjoys ‘family reunion’ at City Arts

Jan 11, 2018

Associate Professor of Art Mary Werner was invited to display two of her paintings at City Arts’ 20th-anniversary exhibit, “20×20.” The show opened Jan. 5 and features 20 well-known local artists who had to meet a specific set of requirements to be invited to this particular show.

Mary Werner, associate professor of art and director of visual arts.

When City Arts opened in 1998, it held a “Hard Hat Party” exhibition, titled as such due to the building not quite being finished yet. The exhibition featured 100 works by 100 artists, Werner included. City Arts invited 20 of those artists who have continued to stay involved in the Wichita art community to participate in the 20×20 show.

Werner was honored to be one of the 20 artists chosen and said, “It’s a little bit like a family reunion.”

Werner is familiar with all the artists in the show and said, “Most of these people are pretty vital to the Wichita art community.” She’s stayed in touch with the majority of them over the years.

She remembers the Hard Hat Party exhibition as being very vibrant and thick with excitement for what was to come for this new art venue. She said, “Now it’s celebrating 20 years so that’s an accomplishment. And it’s still going strong.”

Werner has been active in the Wichita art community since her Wichita State University graduation in 1994. She has been a part of 58 shows since 2002 and countless shows before that. Her resume boasts seven pages full of exhibitions and professional activity since 1994.

The oil on canvas paintings she submitted to the 20×20 show have a feminist appeal but Werner said, “It doesn’t pay to talk about the artwork unless you can look at it.” Attending the show is highly encouraged by Werner. The art will be on display until Jan. 20.

Mary Werner
“Holiday Magic” by Mary Werner is on display at City Arts until Jan 20.

Through the years, Werner has started to prefer judging art more than actively participating in shows as it is a much smaller time commitment.

The past four years have been full of judging for Werner. She judges art shows at the high school and junior college levels, theme shows and even does scholarship reviews for corporations who are looking to give scholarship money to students.

“My favorite thing to judge would be young student work,” she said. She enjoys high school upperclassmen the most and gets to see a lot of it as director of visual arts when students send their portfolios to Newman University.

Mary Werner
“I am My Own Evil Twin in a Parallel Universe” by Mary Werner is on display at City Arts until Jan 20.

Werner has been a professor at Newman since 2003 and took on the responsibility of running Steckline Gallery located in De Mattias Hall in 2006. Werner is currently in her 12th and final year of the Steckline Gallery director position.

The gallery was run by a four-person team before Werner, but now all of the responsibility rests on her shoulders alone. She paints the gallery after each exhibit, rearranges it to fit each individual exhibit, schedules the artists and more. She has put on a grand total of 96 shows, which includes 96 “Art-For-Lunch” presentations.

Once she completes her final year as Steckline Gallery’s director this May, Werner will teach for one more year at Newman before retiring.