Five reasons to view Don Fullmer’s ‘CONTINUUMART’ retrospective

“CONTINUUMART: A Don Fullmer Retrospective” is on view through April 21 at the Birger Sandzén Memorial Gallery, 401 N. First St., in Lindsborg.

Five reasons to view Don Fullmer’s ‘CONTINUUMART’ retrospective
Don Fullmer in his first studio in Hutchinson, Kansas, about 1979. (Image courtesy of the artist.)

1. Abstract artist Don Fullmer is a native of Hutchinson. He was born and raised there and has maintained a studio in Hutch since 1978. Painting intrigued him as a student at Hutchinson Community College, so when he moved on to the University of Kansas seeking a degree in design (which he hoped would lead to a “real” job), he embraced the medium fully and achieved a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1974, followed by a Master of Arts in 1976. At the University of Iowa, he earned a Master of Fine Arts in painting in 1977.

Don Fullmer, "Flowering Space II," 1994, mixed media, 58 by 44 inches. (Image by Teri Mott.)

2. Abstract artists, a desire for knowledge, and a beloved printmaking instructor inspire Fullmer’s works. In college he developed a taste for artists including Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, and Richard Diebenkorn. He experimented with techniques associated with these painters and began to develop his own process after graduate school, upon returning to the solitude of rural Kansas. Always eager to learn, the artist immerses himself in the study of culture, history, myth, nature, religion, science, and the universe. “I like to explore the spiritual aspect and place myself in the whole time-space continuum,” Fullmer says, hence the name of the exhibition. He counts among his most powerful influences his favorite instructor from KU, printmaker John Talleur. Fullmer’s passion for printmaking evolved over time and informs his process, which he has been employing to create his signature works throughout his 46-year career.

Don Fullmer, "Rocket Science," 1997, mixed media, 74 by 43 inches. (Image by Teri Mott.)

3. Fullmer’s singular process is a language he uses to share his thoughts. Here’s how it works. The artist lays a plastic drop cloth on the ground — a bit larger than the painting he is creating. While considering the space he is establishing with color, he builds the work from bottom layer to top; splattering, marbling, and pouring paint; sprinkling powdered pigment; and adding scraps of cut up canvas, metallic bits, colored paper, and other elements. When this portion of the piece is dry, he takes a sheet of canvas and covers it with a thick coat of acrylic medium. He lays the canvas — medium side down — on the layered work in progress, presses it down and walks away. Once the work is completely dry, he peels the drop cloth away, leaving the finished painting on the canvas. The results are lush and dynamic, evoking nature both earthly and sublime, from blooming blossoms to the swirling cosmos. “I am a visual person, and this is how I express my ideas,” notes Fullmer.

Don Fullmer, "Cave Wall," 1995, 36 by 27 inches, mixed media. (Image by Teri Mott.)

4. The artist’s paintings are large and captivating, and so is this exhibition. Fullmer has produced more than 100 works by his estimation, which strikes this writer as a humble underestimate. Here is a chance to see 31 of them, painted from 1979 to 2023. Many are of impressive size: 3 by 6 feet, 5 by 7 feet or larger. The Sandzén Gallery’s spacious Brase Room — with 52 by 19 square feet of wall space — is filled to the brim, as is an adjacent corridor. You’ll want to set aside at least an hour to take in all these works, and chances are you will be enthralled for most of an afternoon.

5. There is a lot to see at the Birger Sandzén Memorial Gallery, and in the town of Lindsborg. In addition to “CONTINUUMART,” and numerous glorious paintings by Sandzén, you can enjoy shadow and light oil landscapes by Nebraska painter Patricia Scarborough, mini mobiles and paintings by Scott Brown, a display of recent acquisitions, and an exhibition of Sandzén drawings at the Birger Sandzén Gallery. (New exhibitions open on May 5. Visit for more information.)

And while you’re in Lindsborg, be sure to take a tour of the Red Barn Studio Museum, replete with Lester Raymer’s carnival- and religion-infused paintings as well as 3D works of all kinds that the artist created from repurposed tin cans, fabric, wood scraps, and furniture. There are many art venues on Main Street, including Small World Gallery, with knockout works by National Geographic photographer Jim Richardson, and The Courtyard Gallery, with a variety of works by more than sixty local and regional artists. This is just a small sample of the art adventures you can have in Lindsborg, which is just a one-hour drive from Wichita.

Don Fullmer in his current studio in Hutchinson, Kansas, in 2023. (Image courtesy of the artist.)

Teri Mott is a writer and actor working in Wichita, Kansas, where she has covered the performing and visual arts as a critic and feature writer and worked in communications and development at nonprofit arts organizations for 40 years. She is the co-founder of the SHOUT.

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