One step closer — Art installed at John Parolo Education Center

A two-year vision came to life as art from local and regional artists went up on the John Paolo Education Center walls, bringing the education center one step closer to completion.   

Local artist Tim Towner curated the donated art and oversaw its installation. Pieces created by Bob Laushman, Gentry Mullen, Paulina Otero, and Jason Pollen went up on February 23. An additional created by Clarissa Knighten installment is expected to go up soon.   

CHC/SEK CEO Krista Postai asked Tim to curate original art for the education center. He met Krista many years ago as he and her mother shared a love of art and were close friends.  

“I was extremely honored; if Krista asks you to do anything, it’s a great honor,” Tim says. 

After looking at the architectural plans and color scheme, Tim knew he wanted abstract, colorful art for the education center.   

He contacted a handful of local and area artists, including some old acquaintances from the Kansas City Art Institute. Tim handpicked each piece now displayed at the education center.

Read about the artists & their work below: 

A piece of Clarissa Knighten’s sculpture.

Artist: Clarissa Knighten

Clarissa Knighten, who mainly creates jewelry, made a vertical ceiling sculpture. “It started out as a chandelier, then quickly morphed into rings with squiggles and glass pearls bursting beyond the rims,” she says. “There were a multitude of facets to this project. Lots and lots of copper wire in all gauges and a prayer.”  

The art was inspired by large jewelry pieces she created out of copper for the runway of Kansas City Fashion Week in 2021. It had over 2,000 pieces.  

“CHC/SEK made an investment in my journey as an artist, one that suffers from clinical depression,” Clarissa says. “My work will be seen by those who can relate to the challenges I face, and who, like me, dare to dream big.”

CHC/SEK crew and Bob Laushman hang up Bob’s artwork under the direction of Tim Towner.

Artist: Bob Laushman   

Tim wanted abstract art, and he certainly got it as Bob Laushman had plenty of abstract art made with ink on paper. A total of 20 of his pieces can be viewed throughout the education center, primarily near the main entrance across from Stuckey’s and in the studying space.   

“It’s all very colorful,” Bob says. “Tim helped pick out some brightly colored frames because he wanted a lot of color on these walls. One thing I can’t stop doing with my work is adding color. It’s just going to be beautiful. I’m glad to be a part of it.”  

Gentry Mullen views his rabbit art from the entry of the John Parolo Education Center. 

Artist: Gentry Mullen  

Painter Gentry Mullen made the rabbits displayed across from the entry of the education center. Gentry created the rabbits using alkyd, a quick dry oil-based paint, on top of birch plywood panels. Using several layers of paint while still wet makes the striated texture on the rabbits.   

“I’ve made my career as a graphic designer and only started painting about two years ago, so I feel very grateful to be included,” Gentry says. “I feel like it’s the first step I’m taking in a new career. So, I feel very flattered to be included in all of this. I hope people enjoy it and take some sort of glee when they see them.” 

Paulina Otero, center, talks about her art with Tim Towner, left, and Bob Laushman. 

Artist: Paulina Otero  

Textile Artist Paulina Otero is a recent graduate from the Kansas City Art Institute where she got into a technique called tufting.   

Tufting is typically used to create rugs, but she likes to use the technique to make fine art. Paulina uses a machine that shoots yarn through fabric. She created a few colorful and soft pieces that can be found in the entertainment room.   

“The place where it went fits so well,” Paulina says. “I just hope it brings people joy, warmth, and color and makes them feel relaxed when they are a little stressed or going through something.”

After hanging up his art, Jason Pollen documents the day with a photograph.

Artist: Jason Pollen  

Jason Pollen’s art was inspired by pre-Roman road markers, which can be found in the landscape of places such as Yorkshire, England. The real markers are about “human height,” and you would look at the hole at the top to see the direction of the next village.   

It took approximately three months to create the six mixed-media pieces hanging on the wall outside of the Baker Auditorium inside.   

“It’s a beautiful space; to see the art hanging in a beautiful space is a joy for me,” Jason says.

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