ART AT WUNDERKAMMER TRANSCENDS DISABILITY

Curator Candy Pease (left) and artist Owen Sanders share a moment of laughter during the installation of “the Big Show” exhibit at Wunderkammer Company. On the wall are additional artworks created by Owen using the etch-a-sketch. Owen’s sister, Mackenzie, also has work featured in the exhibit. Both artists sold their creative works during the opening days of the month-long gallery exhibit.“The Big Show” at Wunderkammer Company showcases artworks by people with disabilities in northeast Indiana. Located at 3402 Fairfield Avenue, in the old Casa D’ Angelo building, Wunderkammer hosts off-beat exhibitions to engage the community. Dan Swartz directs the gallery. “Our mission is to engage the community through contemporary art, and we find gaps in cultural opportunities and fill those gaps in a way that benefits different communities.”

Until “the Big Show” opened March 12, there had never been an art exhibition in this part of the state focusing on artists diagnosed with disability, says independent curator Candy Pease. “I really wanted to show the community the amazing abilities these artists have.”

Pease has a background in human services and as an art instructor, and she felt this exhibition was the next step developing people with disabilities into artists by exposing them to the traditional art world where their works could be sold.

Artists like Owen and Mackenzie Sanders. Brother and sister, neither Owen nor Mackenzie had ever sold their art. That changed at the Big Show exhibit. Owen sold both a watercolor of a bird and of an iris. Mackenzie sold three digital art pieces. The opening was exciting for both Owen and Mackenzie. “It’s important for me because it’s an opportunity for everyone who is an artist to display their art and for people who are not artists to come and see it,” said Owen. His sister Mackenzie was also excited to see her work find new homes. “It was exhilarating because people I didn’t know wanted to buy my art. It was a head rush,” says Mackenzie.

Pease wasn’t at all surprised gallery patrons bought pieces from the show. “I only expected it was a given the art would be sold…this show was juried and I was going for the best of the best to show.”

But, the Big Show at Wunderkammer goes beyond selling art, however, according to Gary Coker. A Wunderkammer regular since the gallery opened two years ago, Coker says “a lot of people with these diagnosis (Austism and Down Syndrome to name at least two) struggle to express themselves, so it’s nice to see this community has an outlet at Wunderkammer.”

The Big Show runs until April 12. Wunderkammer Company is open Wednesday through Sunday, from 1 to 9 p.m. For more information about this, and other exhibits, call Dan Swartz at 260-417-8846.

Brandon D. Schwarze

Brandon D. Schwarze

Brandon Schwarze is a Fort Wayne native and an award winning, nationally published Journalist and Freelance Writer living in Fort Wayne. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer