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Marc’s Picks for Final Friday – September 2009

To help you plan your next Final Friday in Wichita, I offer this list of must-see shows.

Kevin Mullins at Fisch Haus

Kevin has completed a series of paintings and prints entitled “Tales of Brave Ulysses” that explore mythological narratives.

Fisch Haus, 524 S. Commerce, 7–10 p.m.

Dustin Parker at CityArts

Dustin’s “The Last Honest Man” will open in the main floor hallway gallery.

CityArts, 334 N. Mead, 6–10 p.m.
Check out some of Dustin’s work.

“Fresh Squeezed Ink” at Tangent Lab

I have a few prints of my own in this show, but I’m excited about it for other reasons as well. Featuring local fine artists and graphic artists, Fresh Squeezed Ink will present art prints, gig posters and multimedia works created with the use of screen printing. Many artists, including Jeff Eaton and our own Chris Parks, will show work. Several national studios, including Aesthetic Apparatus in Minneapolis and Methane Studios in Atlanta, also will be represented.

Tangent Lab, 143 N. Rock Island, 3rd Floor, 7–11 p.m.

(Click the thumbnails below for full-size images.)

Kevin Mullins, Outside the Gates of Cerdes, 2008, diptych, mixed media/screenprint on Aluminum
Kevin Mullins, Outside the Gates of Cerdes, 2008, diptych, mixed media/screenprint on Aluminum

Dustin Parker Studio, shot of work in progress
Dustin Parker Studio, shot of work in progress

Lance Henne, Mixed media
Lance Henne, Mixed media

Conquering Fairways and Fears

I’ve been a beginner golfer now for about seven years (since I married a director of golf instruction). I’ve always enjoyed the sport as a spectator, but didn’t want to take it up seriously until recently. Not too long ago, I was only willing to go to the driving range or course with my husband/instructor in tow; I was completely intimidated by what others would think of me.

Then one day it hit me: it’s just a game.

When the opportunity to play in the Young Professionals of Wichita scramble golf tournament came up, I decided to go for it. How can I get any better if I don’t jump in and try? So I convinced one of my girlfriends to form a team.

Gearing Up For Game Day

Tournament rules stated that each member of the four-member team had to select the same three clubs to play with the entire round. She and I agreed would be a good idea to have a couple of men on our team to assist with the longer shots. Scramble format means all team members tee off and the best ball is selected. Then everyone hits from that spot and the best ball is selected again. This repeats until you get to the green and everyone putts in.

When my alarm went off at 6 o’clock on Saturday morning I seriously questioned my sanity. Then I arrived at the executive course (featuring only par 3 and 4 holes) to find the rest of the field was 95% men. I made the conscious decision to ignore the rest of the field and focus on having fun. While the round started out a little rough, I was on a roll about six holes in. I started hitting the ball exactly like I do when my husband is there instructing me. My team even used a few of my drives and putts.

By the time we finished 18 holes, I wondered why I’d waited so long to get out and play on my own. It was a good reminder that I shouldn’t let my lack of confidence hold me back from taking chances.

Nothing But Blue Skies

The 2009 Kansas State Fair came to a close Sunday. This year’s beautiful and mostly rain-free week pushed memories of the soggy 2008 fair out of our minds.

Although final numbers aren’t in yet, there are many promising signs that this year’s event was an all-out success. The North American Midway experienced its best Monday in 40 years. Competitive-exhibits entry numbers were either at or above past years. We witnessed lines of fairgoers at the gates. Busy food venues. A steady stream of media in the fair’s publicity office.

Fabulous Media Partners

Whether reporters were in picking up media credentials at the publicity office, getting the scoop on the day’s happenings, setting up interviews or keying in stories – they seemed truly interested in and jazzed by the fair. They were happy to be there. We can never thank them enough for all they do to get the word out. We constantly had people ask us how to find such-and-such they’d read about in the paper, seen on TV or heard on the news. The fair could never succeed without our tremendous media partners. Thanks, guys!

Checkin’ Out the Studs

Animals remain a highlight of the Kansas State Fair. This year’s theme – Check out the Studs – reinforced the horse shows and competitions, a horse-themed quilt-block contest, and the crowd-pleasing Cavallo Equestrian Acrobatics. Rabbits, chickens, goats and other fair animals didn’t seem to mind their second billing and continued to be a big part of fairgoers’ fun.

A Fair to Remember

Be sure to check out the post show featuring Greteman Group’s own Jen Wiley and Todd Ramsey as hosts. Kansas State Fair general manager Denny Stoecklein answered all the need-to-know questions about this year’s events. (How do they figure attendance for the fair? Did Denny try the famous Pickle Pop?) Hypnotist Ron Diamond also shared thoughts on what makes the Kansas State Fair such a special place to visit. (Since Todd was one of the folks hypnotized by Ron last week, his burn question was, “Did I REALLY do that?”)

Now that the fair has come to an end, we’ll have to put our food cravings on hold for another year. (I’m already hungering for an ear of roasted corn.) In the meantime, keep in touch and be among the first to find out about next year’s entertainment via Facebook, Twitter, and the fair blog.

Glad I Scrambled

It was worth accelerating my morning a bit in order to attend the Chamber’s Sunrise Scrambler yesterday. It’s not often you hear a really great speaker. Coleman SVP Marketing and New Product Development Jeff Hillard is that guy.

The Value of Relevance

Jeff’s topic – The New Value Reality – was meaningful to companies large and small. B2B, B2C or a combination thereof. He didn’t just tell us why many consumers now consider it a badge of honor to shop Walmart. Why they’ve started saving more than they’re spending. Why they feel uneasy shelling out $4 for a Starbucks latte. He showed us how we’ve gotten to this place.

And he did it sans notes. He just talked to us.

What No PowerPoint Points?

Jeff used PowerPoint judiciously, reserving it for visual support – not bullet points. (Do I hear a hallelujah?) He walked us through the past 20 years and how market forces helped us spring back from 1987’s Black Monday, the early 2000’s Dotcom Bust, even 9-11. But some of the very things that helped us rebound – rising home values and easy credit – led American consumers to treat their home equity as the ultimate ATM, borrowing against their homes to such an extent that when home values fell, foreclosures soared.

Events of the past few years – Lehman Brothers’ non-government-bailed-out collapse, sky-high gas prices, unemployment approaching 10 percent, etc. – has led to fundamental changes in consumer behavior. Value rules. Conspicuous consumption suddenly makes you feel not only conspicuous, but none too bright.

Better, Smarter Shoppers

Every purchase is now a considered purchase. Shoppers research online. Talk to their friends. Share victories. Brag about the bargains they’ve found – not just on big-ticket items, on everything. Savvy, Jeff said, has become the new status symbol.

Just as consumer buying has changed, our businesses must change. Providing true value. Real savings. And/or creating something unique. He provided several fun examples, from Dutch Boy’s pourable paint can to the mini desserts many restaurants now offer.

Lighting the Way

Coleman’s insight has been to turn the consumer’s want into a need. Its new campaign – “The Original Social Networking Site.” – does that beautifully, selling connection and experience, not tents and lanterns.

Throughout the presentation, Jeff kept bringing his points back to our individual businesses and how we could be more successful. He didn’t promise it would be easy. In fact, he said in this new hyper-competitive, global economy, we’re going to have to work harder to get and retain the same amount of business we previously enjoyed.

I believe him.

Let’s Get The Party Started

Today marks the first day of the 2009 Kansas State Fair – and we couldn’t be more pumped for this year’s festivities.

With grandstand acts like Huey Lewis and The News, Heart and GG’s personal favorite, the Naked Brothers Band; incredibly bizarre, but delicious food choices; and unbeatable people-watching opportunities, the fair is our favorite Kansas event year-in and year-out.

If you’re planning on heading to the fair, make sure you bring your digital cameras and camcorders. We want to see the photos and videos you’re capturing, so after you upload them to Flickr and YouTube, make sure you tag them with “KSF09” – the official tag for this year’s fair.

Our team is heading up to the fairgrounds on Monday evening to partake in some delicacies and experience the hilarious hypnotist.

Kansas State Fair Pre-Show Goes Digital

Every year, a few days before the fair officially kicks off, Kansas media are invited to the fairgrounds for a tour of the facilities, interviews with the organizers and opportunities to uncover some unique insights about quirky exhibitors or fanciful foods.

This year, we took the pre-show event online, making it easier for more people to attend, and opening it up to more than just the media, taking questions via Ustream and Twitter from anyone who was watching. Jen and I hosted the show, which was a ton of fun.

We talked with Denny Stoecklein, the fair’s general manager, about fair fashion, unique foods and not-to-miss events. We spoke with Greg Thompson, a Grand Drive committee member, who shared details about the youth-focused agriculture event. And Becky Rhodes from the Kansas Department of Commerce told us all about the Bluestem wine and beer garden, featuring Kansas-brewed beer and the people’s choice winetasting event.

But enough gabbing – check out the recorded version of the pre-show for yourself.

The fair starts today, so we’ll have another post this afternoon, so check back!

Capturing Flying Sculptures

I realize that, generally speaking, it is the parent who beams with pride at his child’s accomplishments – and not often the reverse. However, I am going to brag. My dad happens to be world-renowned aviation photographer Paul Bowen and he is featured in the September issue of Flying magazine. His photos have graced countless covers over the years, but this article is unique. Not only did he take the photos, he wrote the story. In it he shares a few of his secrets and explains how it takes an entire team to orchestrate a shoot.

If you don’t have a subscription, you can pick up a copy at Barnes & Noble. His story, “Air-to-Air, How Paul Bowen gets those fabulous inflight photos” is a fascinating read, and the photos are truly remarkable. If I do say so myself.