Steckline Gallery opens first spring show

Jan 28, 2021
Juanta Wolfe

The Steckline Gallery located inside De Mattias Hall at Newman University is exhibiting its first 2021 spring semester show featuring local artist Juanta Wolfe.

The show, titled “What’s a Crown to a Clown?” will be exhibited through Feb. 26. The First Friday reception will take place from 5-8 p.m. Feb. 5. Facial coverings and physical distancing are required.

Shannon Johnston, Steckline Gallery director, said even though First Friday won’t look as it has in the past, she is excited to bring back the traditional event.

Featuring local artists, which is something the gallery has always enjoyed, became essential for the spring semester. Johnston made the choice to exhibit local artists exclusively during the spring because it simplifies the university’s COVID-19 protocols and avoids possible travel issues for the artist.

Wolfe is well-known in the local art scene. His mural work is displayed near downtown Wichita in the historic Dunbar District and he and his wife’s artwork was selected for the Wichita Riverfest 2020 poster and button.

His creativity carries into other aspects of his life as well. He teaches a class on lettering styles and technique for Wichita’s Arts Partners and is also an instructor at Wichita Jiu Jitsu living out another passion of his — martial arts training and fighting.

As an artist, Wolfe’s inspiration comes from his upbringing, his identity and his life experience all expressed in a style combining street art, cubism and Afro-Futurist exploration of portraiture.

“Being mixed I often felt like I had to choose when to be ‘black’ or ‘white,'” said Wolfe. “As I got older I stopped caring and decided to like and do whatever felt right. In my art, I try to reflect the constant battle I have with what I identify as, which in short is nothing. My art reflects the confusion I have with the direction I want to go in my life, with the general idea that I don’t care about the end result. I focus on the journey that colors and lines take me on as I create and am not too concerned about the end result.”

Wolfe’s colorful style also has ties to his love of cartoon art. Wolfe said the way cartoon artists use simple shapes to create facial features and everyday household items plays a role in his own work.

“I want a style that is definitely mine. So combining graffiti with cartoon drawings mixed with shading and multiple perspectives is what I try to achieve with my art. I want people to look at my pieces and think they are kind of abrasive in design, but see that the execution of my line-work and shading are technical and skilled.

“Overall I just want my art to be what it is and not something that others say it is. What use would a clown have with a king’s crown?”

A special Art for Lunch presentation will be held via Zoom, Thursday, Feb. 4, at noon. For information on Art for Lunch or to obtain a Zoom event link, contact Johnston at [email protected].

The Steckline Gallery is free and open to the public 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday.