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With big plans, artist's gallery reopens in Lucas




LUCAS -- Mercedes Abraham has a dream.

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LUCAS -- Mercedes Abraham has a dream.

But she's all too aware it will take time, and money, to accomplish the task of reopening her father's art gallery, establishing an artist-in-residence program and eventually making her way to Lucas where she hopes to live.

Eric Abraham died in September at age 76, as a result of complications from surgery. His death came as a shock to the Kansas art community -- famous for the Garden of Eden -- as well as his daughter.

Mercedes Abraham left her California home nearly a month ago to spend time in Lucas and in her father's Flying Pig gallery.

"It's been super since I've been here," she said of her time in the grassroots art capital of Kansas.

She'll be returning home this week, where she plans to stay for perhaps a year longer, all the while working to make arrangements to set up the gallery as a nonprofit.

But she'll not be leaving the Flying Pig unattended.

Artist and filmmaker Peter Max Lawrence, a Topeka native, soon will be arriving in Lucas from San Francisco, where he's been working.

"He's going to be living here for the next year," Abraham said.

Of course, he'll be on the road, much as Abraham's father was, attending art festivals. When he's in Lucas, the Flying Pig gallery will be open.

Failing that, the Grassroots Art Center down the street also has a key and serves as a backup should the gallery need opened.

Abraham said the gallery won't be charging an admission fee for the time being, although it will accept donations to help pay for the care and upkeep of the former auto dealership building.

The donations primarily will go to repair the roof, which could cost nearly $25,000 to fix.

She thinks it will be approximately two years before everything's in place to operate the facility as a nonprofit gallery.