Wichita artist Tabitha Bean’s art collection is up for sale

Courtesy photo

The extensive art collection of Tabitha Oblinger Bean — a lifelong Wichitan, artist and collector who played an integral role in supporting and mentoring other local artists — is going up for sale this weekend.

Collective Intelligence, an art exhibit and fundraiser for the Kansas Food Bank, is a fitting tribute to Bean, according to her family and those who knew her. It mixes Bean’s love of art and artists and her passion to help others who are in need. Bean, a special exhibits coordinator with Wichita’s CityArts for 15 years, died in November 2020 at age 60.

More than 125 artworks by nearly 80 area artists will be on display and for sale from Friday evening, Oct. 8, through Sunday afternoon, Oct. 10, at Vertigo 232 Gallery, located above Hewitt’s Antiques, 232 N. Market. All proceeds from the sales of the artworks will be donated to the Kansas Food Bank.

Even before her 1995 to 2010 tenure with CityArts, Bean had made art and championed local artists, often buying and trading art with emerging artists.

As a result, she accumulated what her sister Sarah Oblinger calls “an eclectic museum” quality collection of art.

“For me, looking at her collection, I’m amazed at the diversity, all the way from folk art to fine art,” Oblinger said. “She just loved art and the people who made it. This show reflects that.”

“She had a keen eye and she would spot something before others would,” said Paul Hudson, the former owner of Lawrence Photo Gallery who has helped put together Collective Intelligence with Oblinger. Bean bought, traded and was gifted art, and she also liked to scour thrift stores and other venues for artwork.

She once traded her blue Volkswagen for a piece of art by her sister. That piece, “Expect Delays,” will be in the art show. Back in the 1980s, the two sisters shared emerging art careers and their artwork was often indistinguishable until Sarah, who now lives in New Mexico, moved away.

Other artists with works in the collection include area notables such as Wade Hampton, Marc Bosworth, Christopher Gulick, Charlotte Martin, Patrick Duegaw, Terry Maxwell, Lester Raymer, John Boyd, Neal Harrington and Curt Clonts.

The collection, of course, also includes work Bean created. Bean’s work was highly sought.

While other artists might have a hard time selling their art, people would line up for hers, recalled Hampton.

“I would feel like I won the lottery when I got a Tab piece,” Hampton said. He added a coveted “Tab piece” to his collection when she offered to trade artwork with him early in his career.

Her style, her personality and her role as an artist and at City Arts made her an icon and heart of the Wichita art scene, Hampton said.

That’s likely why Hudson sees Collective Intelligence as more than an art show and fundraiser.

“We’re making this as much of an art show as a party and celebration,” Hudson said.

‘Collective Intelligence’ art exhibit, fundraiser

What: Art exhibit and sale featuring the extensive collection of local artist and collector Tabitha Oblinger Bean. All proceeds from the sales of the artworks will be donated to the Kansas Food Bank.

When: 6-10 p.m. Friday, Oct. 8; 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 9; and 1-3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 10

Where: Vertigo 232 Gallery, located above Hewitt’s Antiques, 232 N. Market

Admission: Free

More info: facebook.com/Vertigo232art