When art collectors Lee and Darcy Gerhard moved to Lawrence a few years ago, they brought with them an idea that would take root in their new hometown.
The Gerhards were instrumental in establishing the first Lawrence Own Your Own art exhibition a year ago, and are among those wrapping up plans for this year's show.
The Lawrence Own Your Own exhibition encourages residents to learn about and buy the work of artists living in the community while providing a donation to Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center.
"If we can get Lawrence people to buy from Lawrence artists, it benefits everyone," said Lee Gerhard, a geologist at the Kansas Geological Survey.
The Gerhards moved to Lawrence from Pueblo, Colo., where they attended their first Own Your Own exhibition, a benefit show for arts scholarships at a Pueblo college. They shared the idea with the Lawrence Committee for the Advancement of the Visual Arts, a volunteer group that fosters the development of the local visual artist community through the display and sale of area artists' works. The committee embraced the idea and staged the first Lawrence Own Your Own exhibit last September at Fields Gallery.
"I was thrilled we did so well in our first year," Gerhard said.
This year's exhibit, which has moved to the old Carnegie library building at 200 W. Ninth St., promises to be even better, according to Gerhard and Diana Dunkley, chairwoman of the exhibition's sales committee.
"We have almost 50 artists and 150 pieces of art," Dunkley said. "The diversity of the work is tremendous, and the quality of the work is exceptional."
The prices of the works range from $65 to $5,000. Media include oil and acrylic paintings, sculpture, mixed media, photography, digital prints, watercolor, ceramics, drawings and silverpoint. The styles of the works range from super-realistic to abstract, from traditional to contemporary to the quirky.
This year's juror was Richard Fanolio, Shawnee, a master artist and director of graphics at Hallmark Cards Inc. He is a founding member of the Kansas University School of Fine Arts Advisory Board.
At last year's show, Dunkley said, attendees spent $14,000 on artworks, with a $3,000 donation going to Bert Nash and $4,000 paid out in purchase awards.
This year, 21 patrons already have given $7,000 in purchase awards.
"So I'm sure sales with increase insignificantly," she said.
"This year's show has outstanding pieces," he said. "I'd encourage people to come out to see (the works) and to bring their checkbooks. It's an opportunity for Lawrence to see the best of the community's art and to own them. You can't help but win with three do-goods in one: You help the artist, you help the community by buying the art, and you help Bert Nash."