Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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November 13, 2012

Discover art, history, fine flavors in Wichita

By Christine Tibbetts

CNHI News Service

Opinionated, harboring no agenda. If that’s a community of people in America today, sounds like a place I want to visit.

Kansas seems to be the location, Wichita the destination and here’s how I learned this.

Went to the movies in Wichita, the Tallgrass Film Festival. Independent films with questions and comments after thought-provoking films.

These Wichitans are comfortably independent with their own thoughts while accepting of others.

Another way I drew conclusions about the nature of this place was walking all over downtown.

Public art in Wichita is life-sized bronzes, block after block, not formal figures of the famous, but people doing things like the rest of us. Forty at least.

A bronze mother showing something to her child. A businessman with pants rolled up, cooling his ankles in a low fountain.

Play hopscotch with a bronze girl and her bronze cat.

Wichita has been serious about sharing art all over town since 1991; five museums near the river reflect city enthusiasm.

River District museums are the Mid-America All-Indian Center, Old Cowtown, Wichita Art Museum, Exploration Place, all about science and imagination, and Botanica.

Southern Plains Indians lived here, but 567 tribes came together 40 years ago to shape Indian Center.

Outdoor exhibits include an 1850s village with a grass house, important in this prairie of tall grasses.

Go for the art because paintings, drawings and editorial cartoons by Blackbear Bosin are here; he is the Kiowa-Comanche artist whose 44-foot sculpture towers over the confluence of the Big and Little Arkansas rivers.

This is a Wichita icon, known as Keeper of the Plains. Experience the Keeper at sunset when four firepots flame for 15 minutes, expressing earth, air, fire and water as the four elements of life.

Museum visiting is handy with a Go Card. Ask for one the first place you go and get $2.00 off the admission price for nine other museums and the zoo.

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