Vertačniks to open studio, rebuilt after 2019 tornado, for Art Spaces (Sponsored post)

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Of the 19 artists’ studios and creative spaces in Art Spaces on May 4-5, one is a little bit out of the way, but well worth the short drive.

Just east of Lawrence at 1403 East 1850 Road is what many may remember as Vertačnik’s Orchard and home of artists Wendy and David Vertačnik.

Both are well known in the community as accomplished artists and for their long careers as arts educators — David as a professor at KU and Wendy as an art instructor at Lawrence High School — but with Art Spaces, the focus is on their art. The public will have a rare opportunity to see where they create and the studio they rebuilt after the devastating 2019 tornado.

Wendy studied for three years at the Kansas City Art Institute, returned to her home state of New York and earned a BFA from Alfred University, where she and Dave met. She was a studio potter in Miami and Lawrence, and while raising their two sons, earned an MA in art education at KU.

While teaching Drawing and Painting at LHS for 21 years, she was researching painting for her students. She discovered the books of Juliette Aristides, an atelier painter, author and teacher. She traveled to Florence to study with Aristides, which led her to a colleague, Patty Watwood, a New York City classical figurative painter, who she has been studying with since. Wendy organizes the Hilltop Plein Air Workshop at her family home in the Endless Mountains of Pennsylvania for three days during the summer.

Realistic works in oil, watercolor and graphite will be on view.

David began his career in ceramics at Indiana State under the tutelage of Dick Hay, who encouraged his students to look at the broader picture of contemporary art and ceramics in the 1960s. In his Lawrence home, he found a segment of a yardstick with the printed words “Soil will feed you” that was to become his mantra.

His work reflects the agricultural interests in gardening and pomology, the science of growing fruit, as he remembers working in the garden as a young boy with his grandmother and father. Taking natural objects such as branches, roots and antlers, he juxtaposes these with found objects that are everyday tools from previous generations. These tools reflect the hand of the pattern maker, the designer, and are valued for their beauty, craftsmanship and functionality. The tools and natural objects are arranged to create a narrative that is a metaphor for the human figure in the environment.

Art Spaces hours are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, May 4 and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, May 5.

A complete list of participating artists along with a map of their locations may be found on the Art Guild’s website,

Individual artist features may also be found on each artist on the Lawrence Art Guild Association Facebook and Instagram pages.

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