Nerman lights up college: artists donate interpretations for biennial fundraiser


"Yellow" by Robert Quakenbush displayed in the Nerman Museum during the preview night for the Beyond Bounds art auction. Photo by Hannah Hunsinger.
By Julius Williams

Every two years, the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art presents its “Beyond Bounds” art auction event. Painters, sculptors and mixed media artists donate their time and expertise to create unique pieces for auction to private, public and corporate collectors.

The museum provides the media for the artists to create their visions based on the theme that the museum’s foundation chooses. Past mediums have included sterling silver squares and 24-karat gold leaf.

Two years ago, the foundation chose ruby red to commemorate the college’s 40th anniversary. This year, the foundation decided to symbolize how artists enrich our community. Bruce Hartman, director of the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, described the theme in one word: “Brilliant.”

“In economic downturns, the first things that are cut are arts and cultural programs,” he said. “We thought… what can we do to highlight the many contributions that artists make to our lives?”

The foundation decided that a bright, uplifting theme was most appropriate. They choose brilliant yellow as the basic medium for the artists. Hartman said the medium would remind people that the arts brighten and enhance our lives. Artists from all over the country will show their interpretations of the theme in various mediums including oil, acrylic, ceramics, and textiles.

Although contributors come from as far away as New York and even overseas, others are only a few doors away.

Larry Thomas, chair of the Fine Arts department, has had artwork in over seventy regional, national and international exhibitions. He has been with the college since 1991, and he is one of several local artists showing at the exhibition.

“I’ve been in every one of [the Beyond Bounds auctions],” Thomas said. “It’s always fun. The work gets interesting. Now more than ever, it’s an important fundraiser for the museum.”

The auction has brought in almost $700 thousand in the nearly two decades since it started. The proceeds fund acquisitions for both the museum and the college and support the museum’s exhibitions and educational programs.

In addition to fundraising events, the museum also enjoys the patronage of one of Kansas City’s most prominent arts supporters, the Nerman family. Eight years ago, the Nerman family gifted $1.5 million to the museum’s foundation for construction of the new building.

Louis Nerman attended the fundraiser’s preview opening last Friday.

“I’m quite pleased,” said Nerman. “It’s very exciting. We’ve always been supportive of the local art scene. It’s a great event and a great cause and it’s a lot of fun to see what the artists create.”

The Beyond Bounds fundraiser will be held in the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 22. It includes a live and silent auction. Gourmet hors d’oeuvres and live entertainment will be included. Tickets are $50 and can be purchased online at or by calling 913-469-3835.

The exhibition will be free and open to the public the week prior to the auction.

Contact Julius Williams, staff reporter, at


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.