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Painting a broad stroke in Topeka

Washburn alumnae Barbara Waterman-Peters is among the top arts activists in the community.

Barbara Waterman-Peters knew somebody needed to step forward once the North Topeka (NOTO) Arts District blossomed from an idea to reality. As a longtime artist and member of the NOTO board, she figured it might as well be her.

“Exciting things were happening, and so many people were excited about the possibility of a vibrant arts district,” said Waterman-Peters, bfa ’73, Topeka. “Eventually, we needed someone to sign on the dotted line. My thought was, ‘I’ve been in Topeka for so many years that it’s logical I be the one to really get involved and sign a lease.’”

She did just that, resigning from the NOTO board to become a core artist in the district. Waterman-Peters signed a lease in November 2010 and opened Studio 831 after renovation help from community supporters such as Topeka Unified School District 501 and Washburn Institute of Technology.

The grand opening for the painter’s studio was on Dec. 10, 2010. Seventeen months later, the district has more than a dozen studios and antique shops.

“Everything came together beautifully,” said Waterman-Peters, an oil painter and lifetime member of the Washburn Alumni Association. “It does my heart good to hear so many other people speaking about Topeka being a wonderful place to live and to have young artists and people want to stay here.”

Waterman-Peters also worked as an adjunct professor in Washburn’s art department. She spoke at the Alumni Association's Wake Up With Washburn breakfast lecture on April 10, 2014.