The project came about after Fred & Barney’s owners, Kevin Brown and Tracy Fahrbach, saw an installation of works by Envision artists at the Aloft Wichita Northeast Hotel and contacted President/CEO Michael Monteferrante to explore a similar arrangement at their new restaurant. Many of the artists exhibiting works at Fred & Barney’s also have pieces on display at Aloft and have shown their work throughout the United States. Tajiri, who has been creating art for most of her life, has also been commissioned by the Wichita Downtown Development Corporation to produce a tactile public work of art to be installed in Gallery Alley in downtown Wichita next Spring.
Some of the pieces on display were specifically created for the new show, while others had been set aside waiting for just such an opportunity to arise, according to Sarah Kephart, art education teacher at Envision.
“It is a true honor for our artists to be asked to help usher in a new business within our community,” she said. “Partnerships like those we have with the Aloft Hotel and now with Fred & Barney’s help celebrate the talent of local residents while raising awareness of our art programs as well as the often-overlooked potential of individuals with disabilities to produce great works.”
Already a popular and successful program, art at Envision has undergone a significant upgrade over the past several years. The renovation and expansion of the Envision Arts program was recognized last year by the Wichita Business Journal for an Innovation Award, acknowledging its accommodations for safety and accessibility. In addition, thanks to generous donations by longtime supporters, the art facility has been renamed the ARSI Expressive Arts Center and houses the Patricia Peer Art Studio.
“Nurturing creative expression from an early age and throughout life provides a wonderful foundation on which to build confidence, equality and achievement,” said Heather Hogan, senior vice president of foundation and mission services at Envision. “We are grateful to our generous supporters for enabling us to expand and improve our art program, and to Fred & Barney’s for providing great exposure for the works coming out of it.”
At each artist’s discretion, the works at Fred & Barney’s may eventually be made available for purchase. As pieces are sold, Kephart said, new ones will replace them. In addition, Envision hopes to find other venues throughout and eventually beyond Wichita where more pieces can be shown. Those wishing to purchase a current work or discuss having works on display in their space should contact Kephart at (316) 440-1534 or Sarah.Kephart@envisionus.com.
About Envision: Envision (www.envisionus.com) promotes advocacy and independence for those who are blind or low vision. Founded in 1933, Envision is one of the largest employers of individuals with vision loss in the nation. Headquartered in Wichita, Kan., Envision’s mission is to improve the quality of life and provide inspiration and opportunity for people who are blind or visually impaired through employment, outreach, rehabilitation, education and research. For more information, visit www.envisionus.com.