MERRIAM, Kan. – At first glance, it’s a local community center. But, beyond the doors of the Irene B. French Community Center in Merriam, Kansas there's so much color and contour. The fact there’s a renowned art gallery here may seem kind of avant-garde to some.
"We might be one of the best-kept secrets, maybe,” according to Dave Smothers. Smothers is the curator of the Tim Murphy Art Gallery, inside the community center. “People just don’t know about our gallery, and we’ve been doing art for 22 years.”
Smothers explained to 41 Action News how the gallery first came to be.
"When our community center first opened up, we were looking for things to fill it. The MidAmerica Pastel Society came to us and said, 'Hey, have you ever thought about having an art show?'"
So, they had an art show and it blossomed into so much more. Smothers said the Tim Murphy gallery plays host to work from high school students, local artists and the gallery also has work on display beyond the gallery walls.
“We have ‘Still Time,’ which is on the corner of Johnson and Merriam Drive. It’s a 16-foot limestone structure that has a big wind chime. Our latest one, which is across the street from our Farmers Market, there are three giant big cherry type stainless steel structures. They’re similar to the bean in Chicago,” Smothers explains.
Much like the art you see in Chicago, this gallery has exhibitions that’ll display work from artists across the country.
The Tim Murphy Art Gallery is currently accepting applications for the 22nd Annual Heartland Artist Exhibition. Hundreds of artists from coast to coast will be in Merriam. It’s a way to expose their art to another part of the country while exposing others to the small town of Merriam.
To learn more about the Heartland Artist Exhibition and how you can get involved, click here. The deadline to enter an entry is Jan. 17th. First Place is $1,500.