Amuse Bouche to meld art, food and percussion

Amuse Bouche to meld art, food and percussion

CLASSY: This piece by Luke Swearingen will be amongst the items for sale at Amuse Busch next weekend. Courtesy photo

>DO IT

What: Amuse Bouche
When: Thursday, May 28, 6:30-10 p.m.
Where: Botanica, 701 N. Amidon
Why: To raise money for Rainbows United
How much: $100 ($80 is tax deductible)

>SEE IT

What: Amuse Bouche, Final Friday
When: Friday, May 29, 5-9 p.m.
Where: Botanica, 701 N. Amidon
How much: Free

I have been involved in organizing art shows in the last year or so, and it has dismayed me at how much artists have to pay out of pocket or have a huge chunk of their profits taken, just to share their art with the public. (This is not a diss on any galleries, as I know they have to cover their costs for rent, installation, utilities, clean-up, taxes, etc.) I started thinking of different ways to showcase artists so this wouldn't be the case though.

Earlier this year I came up with the idea to gather a group of artists and do a show where there would be no down-payment on their part. The catch was that they would donate a percentage to a local charity — an amount that they could write off on their taxes and yet still a low-enough number that they wouldn't have to raise their prices so much that this Wichita audience would still be willing to throw down some cash. I asked 12 of Wichita's best known artists — Christopher Gulick, Dustin Parker, Ian Walker Stewart, Kent Williams, Lisa Rundstrom, Luke Swearingen, Marc Bosworth, Melissa Slates, Nicolette Perez, Patrick Duegaw, Robert Bubp and Wade Hampton — and each of them quickly agreed to my offer.

With this amazing group of artists intact, I wanted to make this more than just the average art show. I turned to Tanya Tandoc of Tanya's Soup Kitchen, and I asked if she would be willing to gather celebrity chefs in town to offer a tasting of some of their best to add to this event. She was instantly on board and started recruiting artists of the culinary variety. Jason Febres of Taste & See, Louis Foreman of Louis' Rose Hill Cafe, Mara Garza and Mario Quiroz of Molino's, Matteo Taha of Bella Luna, and more have eagerly jumped in.

A prime goal of this event was to benefit a charitable organization that all of our Wichita community would be supportive of, and that organization is Rainbows United.

Rainbows was founded in 1972 as a developmental training center for children with severe, multiple disabilities who were ineligible for special education services provided through the public schools. Rainbows pro vides center-based, community-based and home-based service options for young children with special needs. Service components added in the past decade include hearing and vision specialty services, respite care for individuals across their life span, case management services, autism waiver services, supported family living, foster care for children with special needs, outpatient therapies and therapeutic child care.

Where was the best venue to show off and feature all these amazing artists and chefs, all in the name of raising money for Rainbows? The answer is Botanica, The Wichita Gardens. Fortunately, Botanica had an opening for us on the date we had chosen and so generously offered to host this event. They are opening their grounds and their beautiful Lotus Hall for this fundraiser.

But something was still missing. If we are going to tantalize all the senses with visuals, touches, smells and tastes, this better include some sound. So I hit up Luke Swearingen, a local percussionist who used to play with the Wichita Symphony Orchestra. He gathered together four other local percussionists — Kim Garey, Mark Lewis, Matt Maholland and Troy Olsen — who play together under the name of Samba Groove, offering a calypso/jazz sound that is so very unique for Wichita.

From this has come the event "Amuse Bouche: A Taste of Wichita's Finest." What started as a little venture to showcase some amazing art has emerged as an even more amazing evening that will feature some of Wichita's finest artists, chefs and musicians — all in the name of supporting one of Wichita's finest charities, Rainbows United.

This special event takes place on Thursday, May 28, 6:30-10 p.m., at Botanica, 701 Amidon. Ticket cost is $100 per person ($80 is tax deductible) and includes: heavy hors d'oeuvres from 6:30-7:30 p.m.; wine and beer; a meet-and-greet with the chefs, artists and musicians; live music from 8-10 p.m.; and access to the gardens. In addition, 20% of all art purchased goes directly to Rainbows United and is tax deductible.

There is limited availability, so please reserve your tickets early to be included as our guest. Tickets can be purchased through http://rainbowsunited.org/pages/amusebouche or by calling (316) 558-3406.

In addition to this private preview show, the art will be on display on Friday, May 29, 5-9 p.m.; this is a free Final Friday show and open to the public, offering access to the gardens that evening as well. 20% of all art purchased goes directly to Rainbows United and is tax deductible, on this evening also. Family friendly, offering free donuts from the Donut Whole, so stop by before hitting the River Fest!