El Dorado museum hosts 'What is Art?'

Deanna Bohn
Normally the Coutts Museum of Art would host a ghost tour at this time of year — but with the pandemic that began in 2020 those have been put on hold.  In its place this fall is an exhibit called "What is Art?" at the museum in downtown El Dorado, at 110 N Main St. El Dorado.

Normally the Coutts Museum of Art would host a ghost tour at this time of year — but with the pandemic that began in 2020 those plans have, at least temporarily, been buried.

In its place this fall is an exhibit called "What is Art?" at the museum in downtown El Dorado, at 110 N Main St. El Dorado. The exhibit showcases area artists including curator Sheila Yrjanainen — who wants museum goers to be aware of things that might go bump in the night as they view her work at Coutts.

“We have ghosts,”  Yrjanainen said. “John Bunyan Adams, [known as J.B. and Bun to his friends] killed himself in this building in 1921. The Coutts was originally the Butler County State Bank and he was the first bank President,”

According to Vol. P. Mooney in his History of Butler County, Kansas, [John Bunyan] J. B. Adams was the Head Bank Cashier and owned a controlling interest in the bank, which was founded on June 5, 1909.

“He shot himself in the heart 4 times...and missed,”  Yrjanainen said. “The janitor found him and he was taken to the hospital and died 7 hours later. The newspapers said it was a suicide but he left no letter and the newspaper didn’t say anything about an autopsy.”

Yrjanainen said she and her co-workers see and hear strange things coming from the office he used to occupy.

“We joke about John Buyan Adams still being here,” she said. “It is one of the museum mysteries.”

The museum has held ghost tours in previous years but due to the pandemic it is not hosting tours this year.

However, the public is invited to visit the “What is Art?” exhibit and perhaps catch a glimpse of the museum ghosts for themselves.

The Coutts Museum of Art’s current museum-wide exhibi “What is Art?” showcases local area artists and features sculpture and 2-D work from Dallas Dodge; prints from Jennifer Callaway; jewelry from Jillian Marsh; graffiti from Belle Rausch; textiles from the Wichita Weavers, Spinners, and Dyers Guild; and an installation piece from Yrjanainen.

“We have many different forms of art in here right now,”  Yrjanainen said. “We hear from people all the time that they don’t like this type of art or that type of art, so we wanted to have a museum-wide exhibit with many art forms.”

The exhibit runs  through October 28.