As this full harvest moon shines on the autumn equinox, flights of migration and vast bird murmurations are happening! And as promised in my previous post about the artists that make Lawrence well-known as a creative place, I have more to share from local artists and their artworks in our community.
This time in addition to nearby creations, I am pointing to work worth visiting outside of our area by Lawrence-based artists. I also want to recommend my personal recent favorite art-filled reads. I am reveling in the beautifully written complex tale of The Thirty Names of Night by Zeyn Joukhadar. This is heartfelt and provocative resistance to marginalization and a descriptively vivid sensory experience. Alternating chapters of two interconnected eras, one in contemporary New York and the other from the 1920s in French occupied Syria, are narrated by introspective artists who both celebrate birds and their Syrian family heritages with a strong sense of place. Several characters are exploring their gender identity and sexuality. The present-day narrator is non-binary. They scratch out their given name throughout the book—which no longer fits—and finally chooses the name Nadir, a word meaning rare.
In a voice which resonates long-lived feelings of loss and grief, Nadir speaks to their mother who died 5 years ago; she was an ornithologist and now is a very present ghost. Feeling such strong connections to mom, Nadir continues mom’s search for an elusive and scientifically unverified bird species. The story is ultimately hopeful rather than tragic.
With much to ponder, I am returning to glean more insight with a second reading. Author Zeyn Joukhadar, opens a new window is trans-masculine, of Syrian descent, and born in the U.S. He was awarded both the Lambda Literary Award for Transgender / Bisexual / GenderQueer fiction and the Stonewall Barbara Gittings Literature Award for this title. His previous book The Map of Salt and Stars won the Middle East Book Award in Youth Literature. Both novels reflect reverence for Syrian characters who are coming-of-age, thoughtfully link current and historical storylines, and honor culture and spirituality from the global region of South West Asia and North Africa (SWANA) with reference to ʻAttār’s thirteenth-century Sufi fable of a great bird who leads all birds to find the divine within themselves.
To better understand the SWANA spiritual and cultural context within Joukhadar’s tale, I recommend two related books which happen to be artfully illustrated. Both of these books share the title The Conference of the Birds, based on ʻAttār’s parable, but one is a children’s book adapted by Alexis York Lumbard, opens a new window and the other is an adult book of poetry by Peter Sís, opens a new window. I hope you will explore these books and the art noted below!
Now to reveal more of the creative endeavors of Lawrence’s artists!
Calendar of art shows and happenings:
- September 24: Final Fridays Art Walk, opens a new window, 5-9pm - visit art displays Downtown, including: Lawrence Visitor Center (812 Mass. St.), Lawrence Arts Center, Phoenix Gallery and Phoenix Underground, in East Lawrence: Cider Gallery, and SeedCo Studios, and more spots noted in the link above.
- October - November: Kansas Show at Topeka Art Guild and Gallery, opens a new window - celebrate Liza MacKinnon, opens a new window’s first prize winning representation of Lucy Hobbs Taylor in map reproductions of 1800s Lawrence and a copy of Dr. Taylor’s diploma; she was the first woman PhD dentist in America and she lived and practiced in Lawrence.
- October 9: East Lawrence Warehouse Arts District Open Air Art Market, opens a new window, 9 am to 2 pm - visit artful places on Delaware Street, between 8th & 9th St., includes: Rural Pearl, opens a new window (Angie Pickman's studio), Seedco Studios, and Art Emergency. And mark your calendar for this happening each month on the 2nd Saturday!
- October 16 & 17: Maple Leaf Festival, opens a new window, in Baldwin City is a great regional happening with many venders and artists, including handmade Jewelry by Julie, opens a new window Kingsbury
- October 21: Kansas City Museum, opens a new window reopens after extensive renovations. Among the featured art is new commissioned work by Mona Cliff, opens a new window. Cliff is an enrolled member of the Gros Ventre Tribe (A'aninin/Nakota Nations) of Ft. Belknap, MT.
- October 29: Final Fridays Art Walk, opens a new window, 5-9pm - visit art on display Downtown and in East Lawrence: Rural Pearl, opens a new window (Angie Pickman's studio), and more spots noted in the link above.
- November 12 - December 30: Lisa Grossman's, opens a new window In the Open exhibit of “plein air” prairie work is at Strecker-Nelson West Gallery, opens a new window in Manhattan, Kansas
- November 26 & 27: Bizarre Bazaar, opens a new window - shop hand-crafted creations by many artists, including Liza MacKinnon, opens a new window and Ursula Minor, opens a new window. Read more about artworks by MacKinnon and Minor in this earlier post, Celebrating the Arts & Artsy News in Lawrence, Kansas, opens a new window.
I began to highlight public art in my earlier blog; in case you missed that post, see A Collection of Artists’ Works & Reading Recommendations, opens a new window. And please read on for more inspiring publicly viewable art.
Several of Steven Grounds’ large mural portraits of Native Americans adorn the interior walls of Tommaney Library at Haskell Indian Nations University. Grounds is a Haskell alumnus, from the Navajo, Euchee, Creek and Seminole tribes. Sonwai Wakayuta (Hualapai and Hopi) is an artist and environmental studies major at Haskell who collaborated with Steven Grounds; Wakayuta’s meaningful and colorful works complement Grounds' portraits and are worth a visit to the Haskell campus.
The new Lawrence Memorial Hospital (LMH) Health West Campus features an impressive range of artworks to justify non-medical reasons to either catch the bus or make the drive to the northwest side of town. Read about the partnership between Lawrence Arts Center and LMH, opens a new window.
The powerful mural In Good Standing Amidst the Powers that Be by Missy McCoy & Ardys Ramberg lives on the south wall of Cottin’s Hardware building at 1832 Massachusetts Street. And a new collaboration is in the works with Missy McCoy, Ardys Ramberg, and Dave Loewenstein. They are creating a mural to face the Cottin's Hardware Farmers Market on the east side of the building.
Many vivid community-focused murals throughout Lawrence were made collaboratively with lead artist Dave Loewenstein. The Return of the Pollinators Mural is one of the most prominent of these, located in the Saturday Farmers' Market space in the 800 block of New Hampshire Street. The Spencer Museum of Art offers photos and information about the Pollinators Mural online at https://www.spencerart.ku.edu/pollinators-mural, opens a new window.
Loewenstein co-wrote the book, Kansas Murals: A Traveler's Guide, with fellow artist Lora Jost. Their book shares passion and personal expertise to enjoy Kansas via mural arts. This book is available at the KU Libraries or you may request it via interlibrary loan with this link, https://lawrencepubliclibrary.on.worldcat.org/v2/oclc/65978536, opens a new window.
And finally returning to the very nearby, Lawrence Public Library has a gallery wall available to display artwork. Learn more and see the Library Art Exhibit Calendar at lplks.org/art-exhibit-proposal, opens a new window.
I hope I have revealed both art and art-filled reads of interest to you. Best wishes for your autumn season to be creatively blissful!
I am inspired to acknowledge traditional Native lands. In our region near the Kansas (Kaw) and Wakarusa Rivers, I want to honor the Dakota, Delaware (Lenape), Kansa (Kaw), Kickapoo, Lakota, Osage, Sac and Fox, Shawnee, and actually hundreds more tribes who find connection here with Haskell Indian Nations University. As Ken Lassman (author of Wild Douglas County, opens a new window and Kaw Valley Almanac, opens a new window) noted: “Haskell Indian Nations University is the United Nations of tribes, with members of hundreds of tribes coming here over the lifetime of its existence.
Appreciation to Dr. Denise Low, opens a new window (Delaware (Lenape) and Cherokee heritage) for helping me make sure I acknowledged each Native American tribe by their preferred name.
My gratitude to each artist for sharing generously with images and thoughtful notes about their work and reading, opens a new window.
Thanks to Carrie Cornelius (Oneida Tribe of Wisconsin and Prairie Band Potawatomi) for big-heartedly sharing information and photos!
Cover image credit: Dr. Daniel Wildcat (a Yuchi member of the Muscogee Nation of Oklahoma) is standing in front of portraits of Dr. Wildcat and Vine Deloria, Jr. (Hunkpapa Lakota) by artist Steven Grounds (Navajo, Euchee, Creek and Seminole), photo courtesy of Carrie Cornelius (Oneida Tribe of Wisconsin and Prairie Band Potawatomi)
- Shirley Braunlich is a Readers' Services Assistant at Lawrence Public Library.