This past weekend, painter and Wichita native Curt Clonts opened his solo exhibition at Bluebird Arthouse with a title that, well, I can't write here, but it conveys the self-deprecating humor that makes Clonts so likeable.
Clonts is a well established figure in the art scene. He is an artist-in-residence at Friends University, a member of relatively recent artist group The Ginger Rabbits, was unanimously voted into the cheekily-named “Famous Dead Artists” group in 1997, and was a regular contributor to local arts and culture publication F5, among many other endeavors.
But, at the core of it all, Clonts is a painter. He typically works on found materials that are fitted together to make a paintable surface. This gives his work dimensionality, texture and a distinct visual quality.
Birds have a consistent presence in his composition, along with Matisse-like foliage and planes of color that rest easily on the surface. With refined color choices and a trained eye for asymmetrical balance, Clonts’ paintings convey a range of tones-- from contemplation, in works such as “Over the Grey Pond,” to the politically engaged, with “A Prayer for Greece.” He also collaborated with his three-year-old granddaughter on a piece titled “Bean Bean and Poppy,” a work of formal excellence and touching sentiment.
Clonts’ subject matter is a natural fit for the bird-themed Delano art supply store. There are 12 works total of relatively small scale for Clonts, who can produce quite large work at times. Overall, it is a tidy exhibition with pieces that are accessible and enjoyable.