I took a drive downtown yesterday to go to the home office of Emprise Bank. I wanted to take a look at some of the art featured in the collection known as “The Art of Emprise.”
I knew I wouldn’t see more than what was featured in the lobby. As I arrived I ran into the very man who started the collection, bank chairman, Mike Michaelis. I told him what I was up to and he invited me to join him in viewing some of the art. We walked together through the foyer and the lobby, looking at works by Kansas artists Patrick Duegaw, Connie Ernatt, M.T. Liggett, Robert Brawley, and Randy Regier, to name a few. Mike explained that he actually hangs all the work himself at the home office and throughout all of the branches because he wants to be careful and make sure it’s hung in the most presentable manner. Employees actually get to choose what art hangs in their offices and branches.
There are more than 1700 works by almost 600 artists. The earliest work dates from 1885. The collection includes paintings, photographs, and sculpture. I asked Mike if the collection contained work by an artist with Kansas connections—David Salle. Before I knew it he was pressing access numbers and we were standing inside the collection vault looking for a Salle painting. The vault full of gorgeous works in all sizes, styles, and disciplines. I watched Mike search intently, with a slight smile on his face and felt proud that we have this man, carefully watching over our state’s history in art.