If you are looking for a unique gift that also allows you to know the exact person who created it, you don’t have to go to Kansas City or even Topeka. The Manhattan Arts Center’s 13th annual Wrap it Up event is underway through the holiday season. Wrap it Up is an arts showcase where local artists can submit their work for purchase. Those who buy items must pay for and take them the same day, but that comes with a slight bonus: free gift wrapping.
The showcase also helps three groups involved with the event. The first is the MAC itself; 30 percent of each sale goes back into the program. The second is the artists. They receive the remainder of the sale and gain exposure for their craft. The last group is the consumers who are looking for one-of-a-kind items that can’t be purchased in a big box store.
One of the people behind the art at Wrap it Up is William Groce, an oil painter from the area. Groce has been painting for 12 years and also helps run an oil painting studio at the MAC. One of his original oil paintings hangs inside the gallery. “Little Girl of Napa” has a young girl sitting on the sidewalk as she looks out from the canvas. Another of Groce’s paintings depicts a busy street in South America. The vivid reds and yellows pop out of the white landscape. They are bright and inviting to look at.
Groce understands and appreciates the amount of time and work that comes from each artist. He said that around 90 artists have submitted art for this year’s sale. That is up 12 to 15 artists from last year. Groce said that even though this kind of event is great for an artist’s exposure, it’s even better for a larger reason.
” The MAC is an important hub for both artists and the community,” Groce said. “There are a lot of regional artists here some of which, I don’t even know, but the work is quality.”
Groce said the pieces are also made to be affordable. Everything within the gallery is priced between $5 and $500. Groce said that one of his favorite parts of the sale is how big of a variety there is.
“This isn’t seasonal art,” Groce said. “This is art that you can use year round in a home or even an office.”
Penny Cullers is in her third year of offering pieces for sale. She describes one of her items as mosaic art. The second is also well known, but might not be traditionally seen as art. “I like to doodle,” Cullers said.
Her self-named “doodle art” adorns an interesting canvas: shoes.
“I got the idea from the Etsy website,” Cullers said. “I like shoes, I think most girls do!”
The Ked-like sneakers are all adorned with her doodles. Each pair is distinct.
Cullers even wears a pair of her artwork. The shoes are olive green with a rust color used to make the doodles. There are clocks and vines all over them. On the back the word ‘Love’ is snuck into the scenery. Cullers said other local artists are always welcome to put their art into the jury process for the next Wrap it Up.
“You come into the office at the MAC and fill out a form and submit photos of your art,” Cullers said. “After that the jury looks at it for quality and then decides which artists who get in.”
Cullers said that once an artist has been accepted, he or she can participate every year.
“My first exhibit was three years ago and I was excited to see the work on the wall, it was very rewarding,” Cullers said.
Cullers said the event is a great way for local art forward and then it can be purchased as holiday gifts. But she also sees it as more than just an art sale.
“There is a quote by Donatello that said ‘Kingdoms fall through luxury; cities rise through virtue.’ I think we can socially learn to accept art and through that acceptance become more open to other things,” Cullers said.