The Ulrich puts a Wes Anderson spin on opening celebration

The Ulrich Museum of Art dived into summer with two new exhibitions that opened last night. The opening of Reemergence and Reconnecting: A Youth Arts Council Takeover and Deep Dive: Selections from the Permanent Collection began with a celebration featuring music, food and drinks.

The Ulrich Museum Alliance, a volunteer group dedicated to promoting the arts, planned the evening’s opening party.

“The title is Deep Dive, and I said that made me think about old diving posters and surf posters from like the late 50s, early 60s,” Membership and Special Events Manager Carolyn Copple said. “That conversation shifted then to Wes Anderson’s movie ‘The Life Aquatic,’ and we kind of stuck on that.”

Many volunteers and workers at the Ulrich wore red hats like the crew members in the movie. In addition, the skywalk connecting the Ulrich and McKnight Art Center was decorated to look like a submarine.

“We also did a hashtag sort of game where it was #AccidentallyWesAndersonWichita,” Creative Communications Manager Ranjit Arab said. “There’s a trend nationwide, #AccidentallyWesAnderson, and people take photos like ‘this could be a Wes Anderson film,’ so we asked people to do that around Wichita.”

The Reemergence and Reconnecting exhibit was curated by the Youth Arts Council, giving members Madeline Albert, Harper Sanneman and RJ a chance to research and pick pieces for the exhibit.

“Our Head of Education Jenna Irwin was the person who suggested that we might work with the Youth Arts Council, so then we met with Shannon Boone, who was their advisor,” Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art Ksenya Gurshtein said. “I think it’s great when we have a greater variety of people on the staff contributing exhibition ideas.

Deep Dive was a staff-curated exhibition, allowing members to pick from 6,700 pieces to be displayed.

“The real heroes of putting that exhibition together were our registrar Jo Reinert and our exhibition designer James Porter,” Gurshtein said. “All of us submitted our selections to them, and then they looked at what logistically would fit into that space, and James did an amazing job of fitting that much work into the gallery spaces in a way that is beautiful and elegant and sort of makes the works talk to each other.”

Porter said that he and his wife Denise DeBusk worked together to place the pieces of art around the Deep Dive exhibition.

“When you’re in this space and you have people coming into this room, you’re kind of trying to guide them,” Porter said. “I’m the kind of person that when I set up a show, I don’t need you to read 250 words (on the wall). I want you to just come in here, and I want you to be comfortable.”