Art Chatter speakers source inspiration from anywhere

From “creepy nightmares” to “crying brides,” presenters at Art Chatter shared a variety of stories and slides in seven minute intervals.

The crowd’s laughter filled the Wichita Art Museum’s auditorium Friday night, where local artists, designers and curators discussed their work and inspirations. 

Chadwick Armstrong, a Wichita costume designer, was the first presenter and talked about how he’s designed costumes for highschool and professional touring productions and concerts for artists such as Pink.

Armstrong said 2025 will mark his 15th year being in Wichita as a resident and professional designer. 

“I say professional loosely because I see myself as still an amateur,”” Chadwick said. “I’m some 18 year old that just fell into costume design after deciding I couldn’t be an actor anymore.” 

Chadwick talked about his successes, such as making it as semifinalists to get on the show “Project Runway,” and projects of “terrifying proportions,” designing costumes for  ventriloquist dolls.

Chadwick also talked about some projects not as successful.

“I’ve done failed projects of all kinds, musicals and plays, prom gowns no one wanted, and my second attempt to be on reality television,” Chadwick said. 

Through Chadwicks slides, photos of gowns and costumes appeared, along with people he’s worked with and projects he’s worked on. 

“And that my friends takes me to 90 projects in the last 12 years at Wichita. Well, who knows how and when and where I will get to 100,” Chadwick said, “It might be a fun failure or something very rewarding. But here’s to finishing a milestone and celebrating my 100th project.”

Geli Chavez, artist and co-owner of The Artist Lounge, presented second and talked about her artistic journey from six-year olds to now. She’s used different modes such as drawing, photography, acrylic paintings and murals.

“Behind the lens I was able to learn more about human interaction and emotions, building and developing these photoshoots is a way of making art for art’s sake,” Chavez said.

Chavez said her artwork is influenced by streetwear of all eras, her love for basketball and more.

“Streetwear, shoes and basketball,” Chavez said. “That’s the Holy Grail of Geli art.”

Chavez said you don’t have to have a deep connection to find inspiration from something.

“It can start with just your likes and passions and finding a way to turn those passions into a creative path,” Chavez said.

Brett McNulty, Director of Operations and creative director for Douglas event companies, was the third presenter of the event.

McNulty first presented a slide full of martinis, a happy bride and travel.

“I’m an event planner. What do I do all day long?” McNulty asks. “I eat cake. I have martini lunches. I help brides pick out dresses. I go on traveling trips. I’m basically J-Lo.”

Then his slide switched to show the reality.

“The reality of what I do … My phone battery is always dead, I’m usually creating a timeline or production schedule, endless task list, moving heavy boxes and my favorite, crying brides. And mothers of brides, they cry too.”

McNulty said he’s been curating inspiration for as long as he can remember, even before Pinterest.

“Inspiration can really be found everywhere in your life,” McNulty said. “I actually find a lot of inspiration from fashion.”

He then went on to show slides of inspiration collages to what the actual event turned out like. He helped plan the Wichita Art Museum’s color parties such as a rouge colored party and made the declaration, “Bring back the color parties!”

In between presenters, the MC for the night, Fayola Oyatayo, a media personality and CEO of Fay Solutions, called on who he thought was best dressed and asked him to stand. The winner was Eddie Legacy, who was wearing a cowboy hat and long furry coat.

Legacy said he’s always dressing extra.

“My family calls me Extra Eddie,” Legacy said, “So I like to express myself through my clothing as well as through my art.”

Jami Frazier Tracy, Curator of Collections at Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum, warned the audience she had never been to Art Chatter before, and they were in for a history lesson.

Tracy showed slides displaying the historical fashion of Wichita starting with a photo of herself from 1971.

“I loved that dress. I loved clothes, I loved things. And that was my love of material culture that led me to a long career in museum work,” Tracy said.

Tracy showed a slide from 1912, where the “lingerie dress,” a luxury dress, was popular for women everywhere.

She then switched slides to women wearing the lingerie dress while canoeing.

“And the lingerie dress was also worn for canoeing … I recently bought a white linen dress for kayaking,” Tracy said, receiving laughs from the audience.

Nina Winter, a textile artist and art educator for TISSU Sewing Studio, was the final presenter and asked the audience when the last time they heard a bedtime story was.

“So tonight I wanted to share a really sweet and innocent story told through textiles and characters. And I totally lied. It’s going to be a creepy nightmare,” Winter said.

One of Winter’s slides showed a design incorporating a blue collar and white collar worker.

“He’s shredded it, there’s horns growing out of his shoulders because he’s working over 40 hours a week,” Winter said.

The event ended with the crowd giving a standing ovation to the presenters.

Upcoming events at the Wichita Art Museum can be found on their website.