“Final Friday” Opening – Fri. April. 27th 5-8 P.M. Free and Open to the Public
Featuring Music by Wichita Guitar Society members John Francis and Richard Johnson
SPECIAL ART EXHIBIT:
Fred Wassall, mid-western mystic
Showing at the Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum in the Lois Kay Walls Gallery
On view through April 2019
Wichita artist Fred Wassall was born in Birmingham, England in 1904. The teenage Fred Wassall pursued his interest in visual art at the Brighton School of Art “without much success because of my desire to create rather than copy.” During visits to London and studying at the Slade Academy of Art, Wassall developed an interest in display as seen in the department store windows of Harrods and Selfridges. Fred and his mother visited Wichita in 1926 and decided they would apply for immigration.
Upon returning to Wichita, Fred sought work in retail design landing at Sanger Brothers, then Rorabaugh department stores, and eventually in 1934 Walker Brothers for career lasting into the 1960s. During this time Wassall also pursued work as a freelance designer in advertising and as a fine artist. His marriage in 1930 to Irma Baier began a dynamic 40 year artistic partnership. Irma Wassall would become known as a dancer, poet and classical guitarist. By mid-century, the two became well known “bohemians” in Wichita Society. Irma would eventually be recognized as Kansas Poet Laureate in 2001.
Wassall’s artwork ranged from modern surrealism to the exotic, sometimes combining the both. Wassall corresponded and traveled widely seeking opportunity to work or meet with other visual artists including Mexican muralist Diego Rivera and Spanish surrealist Salvador Dali. Fred Wassall worked until his death in 1970.