TOPEKA, KS---Take a peek in the Alice C. Sabatini gallery and you'll find a celebration of Kansas art, or Kansas impressions to be exact. It's an exhibit to honor the memory of Beth Skoog.
Skoog collected the works of Kansas artists along with her husband.
"While we were putting it together, Ralph [Skoog] asked the perfect question," Sherry Best remembers. "Wouldn't it be great if people knew Kansas has had great artists for more than 100 years? That the arts community is really nothing new?' "
And research revealed that Ralph Skoog was right. "Kansas opened for settlement in 1854 and by 1894, Topeka had a thriving arts community," Best says. "We found references to exhibits, like one of the initial exhibits in 1916 for the Topeka Art Guild, which is an organization still going strong today."
What kept that art community thriving were the connections of the artists. It was not a competitive but helpful nature bred between them. "They knew each other, took classes from each other, the influences are very tight," Best says.
Those influental artists included one of the founders of Topeka's art community, George Stone. "He was a young Topekan and knew he wanted to study art so he took a class, then wanted to continue. So while working for the Sante Fe Railroad, he met someone who introduced him to an artist in Paris," Best says while looking around the gallery. "Then Stone came back here to start an art school where he influenced all the people in this room.
That is just one of the countless stories told in Kansas Impressions. You can find this exhibit inside the Alice C. Sabatini Gallery at the Topeka-Shawnee County Public Library.