Exhibits are always changing! Check here for new, upcoming and past exhibitions!
Paintings and Environment
Contagious Pernicious Inertia
Nuclear Winter - Kansas
Origin of Fossils
Wichita KS Home
DAN BECK BIOGRAPHY
Dan Beck was the ultimate free spirit and a true Renaissance man. Excelling at debate, he attended the University of Kansas on a debate scholarship and twice competed in the final rounds of the National Championship. After college, he was co-captain of the U.S. International Debate Team. He debated and toured the British Isles, even becoming the debate champion of Scotland. He remained in Europe, working and living in Amsterdam and exploring Europe by train and hitchhiking. Returning to Kansas City, he worked many jobs, including as a lay bell-ringer for the Salvation Army! He moved to Wichita where he taught his wife, Chris how to find the good rocks and she taught him how to silversmith. Eventually he gave back 7 years to debate as the volunteer debate coach at Wichita East High. He mentored scores of students from across the state and the country. After that, he embarked on artistic pursuits full time, sculpting and painting close to 2000 paintings. Inspired by Samuel P. Dinsmore, he installed tons of limestone, sculptures, and flowers in his yard. This work is documented in ‘Grassroots Artists of Kansas’ ( or as Dan liked to call it ‘Kooks of Kansas’), in the PBS documentary Rare Visions and Roadside Revelations: Back to the Breadbasket, and on the Kohler Foundation’s Spaces Archives. The yard installations were included in a tour of Wichita historic homes during the 2000 River Festival. Dan continued to work with young people by volunteering with the 5th grade Interactive Sculpture Project which teamed area artists with students to create art for their schools. Part of the project included a bus tour of Wichita’s outdoor sculpture. Dan’s installations were on the tour and described as an example of ‘The Compulsions to Create.’ In later life, his love of rocks led him to become a jade carver and collector, especially of wearable art. He particularly enjoyed encouraging new carvers by buying their early work. The research skills he learned in debate enabled him to explore and benefit from many cultures around the world. Multicultural elements can be found in much of his work. Dan lived his art. He passed away on August 6, 2020 at the age of 71, leaving an extensive and eclectic body of work.
25 Year Retrospective Exhibit
Discover Midwest Outsider Art at Lucas, KS
November 15, 2020 - October 31, 2021
Outsider, Self-taught, Recycled Art Environments
121 Kansas artists
19 Out-of-state artists
This is Grassroots Art.
Expect the unexpected at the Grassroots Art Center! Exhibits include Midwest self-taught artists that create recycled outsider art environments. Ordinary people have a vision and spend 15-20 years, usually at retirement age, creating an environment around their home. They use unconventional art materials such as limestone, pull-tabs, debris from a lake, and chewing gum. Visitors will be challenged to think, question and laugh out loud.
Click on circular Shop button at top of page for 25 year commemorative exhibit catalog, t-shirt, and mug.
Click on the 25 year exhibit tab at the top of this page to see more photos and extended text about 140 self-taught artists across the nation. The Grassroots Art Center has documented all of these environments.
Inez started carving Kansas limestone in the late 1920's while recuperating from an accident. Her prior jobs included auto mechanic, truck driver, and traveling evangelist. She carved in native Kansas limestone for over 51 years.
Mixed Media Collage
John Woods came to Kansas from California around 2000. In the 1970's a nearby lake in MacArthur Park was drained. Woods began to collect the objects found at the bottom in layers of mud. Some of the found objects include toys, tools, cosmetics, dice, rings, guns, and even a WWI bomb! In addition art works created with puns are a specialty of John.
Concrete Rock Garden
Since 1955, local Lucas resident and school teacher, Miss Deeble has created miniature "postal card" scenes of places she visited or read about in books in her own back yard. Some of these include Mount Rushmore, Estes Park and the Tetons.
Paul Boyer has a unique ability to combine carving and mechanics. Working with pine, cedar, and walnut, finely shaped wires, gears from clocks, meters, timers, chains from old necklaces and motors, he creates whimsical animated scenes.
Adolph Hannemann retired from farming in 1985, when he was 69 years old and devoted his time to carving. He was inspired to carve groups of people partially because he was one of 13 children growing up. He also carved animals furniture and scenic narrative sculptures.
Ed Root and his wife Lydia raised 10 children on their farm south of Lucas. In 1937, he suffered a broken hip in an accident. This ended his farming career. During the next 20 retirement years, he spent most of his time building a unique sculpture garden of hundreds of cast concrete pieces studded with rocks, broken glass, ceramics, and jewelry.
Barbed Wire Art
Kansas is FULL of barbed wire fencing. Rancher, Ernie Poe saw an opportunity and took it. Barbed wire is the medium he uses to create life-size buffalo, oxen, horses located at Sharon Springs, Ks to assorted smaller sculptures like this Kansas Jayhawk.
After her husband passed away, Ida spent the next 17 years filling her yard with these grassroots art treasures. Painted metal chickens and fencepost farmers are just some of her creations. From Pasadena, Texas, this grassroots artist pushes past the Kansas borders.
Metal Totem Poles
Freedom of expression takes an artistic turn at the outskirts of the small rural community of Mullinville in southwest Kansas. In 1989 M.T. Liggett began to weld oddly shaped pieces of scrap metal together into totem poles. Each totem pole carries a message or story and soon finds a place along his fence row(s) North of Highway 54.
He creates creatures. Jim Dickerman is known for the crazy metal and organic bone media that he combines to make these creatures. He uses old farm equipment and bicycle parts and mixes that in with skeletons and bones from different animals. Jim has a very stylized method of painting his creatures.
Metal machines are what Earl loved to make in his working days. Working for Kansas State University, Earls job was to create machines for the forestry department. But as Earl retired, he wanted to make machines that did not necessarily do anything. Many of his wood and metal work are called, "play pretties" and a flat bubble machine was created for his grandchildren.
David meticulously uses small wire clippings to piece together these awesome works. Bending each small wire and soldering them together. He resides in Topeka, KS.
Steam Punk Machines
Gary worked in construction for 30 years, then jumped head first into creating these steampunk machines. He creates small intricate pieces to sculptures that are ten feet tall. Come view his magical world of recycled materials at the art center.
Chewing Gum and Grapefruit
Meet Betty, a little "spit-fire" of a woman. She took what you and I throw away like chewing gum and grapefruit rind and spent 75 years of her life creating hundreds of cameos, creatures, and portraits.
Doren A. Spillman
Mechanical Wood Carving
Doren owned and operated a filling station throughout his lifetime. One of his many creations is this tabletop farm. Carved out of wood, this interactive and moving farm shows chickens feeding, wood cutting, wheat harvesting and farmers tending to their crops. This creation sat in the window of his Hoxie filling station for years before landing here at the Grassroots Art Center.
A conventional metal fabricator by day, Bob Mix lets his imagination run wild by night and on the weekends. In his skilled hands, bearings and bushings and sickle guards take on new life and function in whimsical machines and creatures lurking about in his yard surrounding his home.
Herman Divers was the master of pull-tabs. Divers used to construct his models in the evenings after his day job, letting the materials dictate the pace of the work; "I'd work on pull-tabs until one broke, sometimes after an hour, sometimes after 2 or 3 hours. His first project was a bedspread, then eventually he created a full-size automobile.
Kathy Ruth Neal
Kathy Ruth Neal was an extraordinary wood carver. After a bout with cancer, she tried to carve a wooden walking stick on a trip to the mountains. She progressed in skill and creativity to create masterpieces in wood. Her joy for living and laughter is expressed in her art.
Bob Fredericks was always taught growing up, "If you want something, you had better learn how to make it. His dad taught him how to make boxes out of wood and hammering nails before he was in school. He later found a passion for carving in wood. Bob carves detailed figures, creating scenes inside glass bottles and sometimes they even move.
James Perucca spent 30 years quietly surrounding his home in Overland Park, Kansas with a yardscape of plastic bottles, figurines, stuffed animals and anything else that pleased his eye. He loved color and movement.
Salvaging scrap metal pays the bills, but creating sculpture from that junk is what makes John Scott happy.
Most of John's small sculptures are extremely detailed, whether it's a Harley Davidson motorcycle, hand gun or an oil pumper unit. He created the 9 foot tall metal free range chicken that roams at Kansas Originals, Wilson, KS.
Mri-Pilar is an eclectic mix of international traveler, mystic, vegetarian, independent, poet, and alien. She lives part-time in Lucas and part of the time at Lindsborg, Kansas. Over 1800 recycled sculptures reside in a foil lined house and are created from computer motherboards, kitchen utensils, game boards, clock gears, farm machine parts, toys, metal, plastic remnants, and other items.
An imaginative artist created with found or discarded materials from Fort Hays State University dumpsters. Lawrence Reynolds' work is usually an illustration of a text, either Biblical or from popular culture.
Using discarded scraps of metal, he portrays a sprawling man tripped up by his own tongue with the title, "Man is judged by the transgressions of his lips."
Wood and Putty
Seiwald's paintings are not created on canvas but rather plywood adapted with some coatings of wood putty to give it texture. He just likes to paint on that surface better. Paul retired to find a world of creativity.
Marlynne Joy Snare
Simply walk into her home to take a trip down memory lane. Marlynne's paintings include 1950's memories of her childhood holidays at Easter, Independence Day, Memorial Day and Christmas in downtown Kansas City, MO.
Each painting, greeting card, wooden cut-out is extremely detailed, and Snare can tell you a special memory about each little detail that has been included in the painting.
When Glenn was just a boy he taught himself how to carve. It wasn't until later in life that he started creating an environment around his house with a western theme. A mural painted on a retaining wall and large concrete Indians, buffaloes, horses and longhorn cattle began appearing in his yard as well.
From Topeka, KS, Dennis Clark creates "Imaginary Cities," new lands with simply a pencil and poster paper. He works 2 1/2 - 3 years designing and drawing maps of imaginary cities, such as "Isconsigan."
Ole was rather shy to share about his metal yard environment that is evolving at Newton, KS. He creates various animal, human figures and more out of recycled metal. He uses a farm fencing staple, the ordinary T-post, as the central component of many of his sculptures.
Dinsmoor, a civil war veteran and school teacher from Illinois, farmed in Lucas, Kansas and was active in Populist politics. He moved to town in 1905, built a stone log cabin, and started making concrete sculptures in his yard. By 1915 Dinsmoor's yard had attracted 2,000 visitors
Rocks and Concrete
Roy and Clara Miller created the one-half acre, "Miller Park" at their home located in Lucas. The rock garden began in 1932 and evolved until Roy's death in 1964. It took over 50 trips to Colorado for the Millers to acquire their building materials. Each time they brought back a trunk load of beautiful rocks from the scenic places they had visited.