From exquisite pieces of handwriting to murals that take up entire rooms, the public will have a lot to look at in the Shafer Gallery from 1-3 p.m. Sunday, June 3 as the Shafer Gallery hosts a reception for their exhibit “History Writ Large: The Murals of Pat Potucek featuring selections from the International Association of Master Penmen, Engrossers and Teachers of Handwriting (IAMPETH) Calligraphy Collection.”
The reception will feature music, refreshments and a gallery talk by master penmen and world-class expert on penmanship Michael Sull, and a background and historical talk about Potucek’s murals by Gallery Director David Barnes.
Sull is a published author on the topic of artistic handwriting and penmanship and considers his calligraphy endeavors his “life’s work.” He has also created the calligraphy on the Oscar nomination cards for several years and worked as an artist for Hallmark Cards. He said even with the growing prevalence of digital communication and computers, handwritten correspondence has great value.
“Writing by hand is a very personal, intimate way of communicating with other people,” he said. “There is an invaluable side that cannot be measured by any quantitative unit of measure. The personal sense of initiating the strokes from your physical hand and transmitting that to other people can’t be achieved by other means of communication.”
Sull said he became interested in the beauty and artistic side of handwriting at a young age when he saw his mother’s handwriting compared to his father’s.
“My father was an auto mechanic and he wrote like he was using a wrench, so that made my mom’s look even better,” he said.
Neil McCaffery of Ellinwood hand-makes many of the inks that Sull uses for his calligraphy.
“Neil is a very good friend of mine,” Sull said. “Since he started making these inks around 2000, his ink has become the choice ink all over the world for pens that are used for ornamental writing.”
Potucek’s oil-painted murals were donated to the Shafer Gallery by the Bank of the West in Great Bend. The murals have been made part of the Barton Foundation’s permanent art collection. They span many canvases and have been displayed on the walls inside of Bank of the West ever since Potucek painted them and donated them in the 1970s. They feature sweeping Midwest landscapes that incorporate many subjects that are a part of this region’s history and heritage including agriculture, railroads and early small-town life.
Potucek painted more than 250 murals throughout her life before she passed in 2011 at the age of 86. Her son Scott of Hutchinson said she was resourceful with her talent.
“She was a barterer,” he said in a 2011 article in The Hutchinson News. “She got paid for some, but she also traded her art for things. She was old school.”
Shafer Gallery Director Dave Barnes said the gallery is an ideal place to showcase the murals, which span almost 22 feet total in width and stand over 7 feet tall.
“They are a wonderful example of ‘Midwest Regionalism,’” he said. “It will be a real joy to show them in the gallery.”
Bank of the West will be honored with framed images of the murals and plaques commemorating the donation. The exhibit will be open through August 13. The gallery has adjusted hours for the summer through Aug. 3. It will be open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, and 1-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.