Council chooses not to help fund the dragstrip mural at this time

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While they liked the idea of ​​bringing a huge dragstrip-related wall mural to downtown Great Bend, city council voted Monday night not to donate $ 10,000 to help public art group Barton Art Movement to fund a fresco at 1111 Main, at least for the time being.

The $ 43,000 mural, which will be done by Arcy (the same artist who did the commemorative painting of the B-29 in Forest and Williams) would include the historic Sunflower Rod and Custom Association trail.

Council members felt rushed by the last minute request and wanted to discuss it further before making a decision. The group wants the mural to coincide with a historic National Rod and Custom Association run at the end of the month.

Lindsey Bogner, member of the BAM action team, made the proposal. She said they had an opportunity to land on their knees to bring Arcy back to Great Bend for the job titled “Starting Line”.

The 3,000 square foot painting would feature Calvin Rice, winner of the very first National Rod and Custom Association race at Great Bend in 1955.

“The location is really important to us because it is on the main thoroughfare through the city,” she said. “The traffic through there is about 5,000 a day and rush hour, so he’s going to have a lot of eyes on him.”

They sought out Arcy because a piece of this size requires a lot of technical skill, Bogner said. The price is in line with the standard costs for such projects by nationally renowned artists.

“It’s a really great place for us to have a huge impact,” she said. “So we wanted to have something vibrant and eye-catching, and really give a lot of recognition to the sweat and tears that flowed down the track and in our community. It was a great topic for us to be able to really honor that way. “

She said they’ve raised $ 26,000 so far and city support will come to a breaking point. They hated having to find another place or cut down on work.

Also, “we have the opportunity with the NHRA,” she said. The organization is having their 1,000th race at the end of this month in Las Vegas and they want to do a full story on Great Bend for this show. If the mural was in place, they would feature it as well.

“This is something we’re really excited to partner with them for, but we really need the support of your guys to make this happen,” she said.

Ward 2 Councilor Kevyn Soupiset supported BAM’s intentions, but hesitated to back the contribution for fear of the precedent it might set.

“I agree,” Ward 1 Councilor Alan Moder said. “I think we need to have a discussion. I think it’s a bit difficult to make a decision now ”when they had only heard about the proposal on Monday afternoon.

“I appreciate the aesthetics of the murals, but I’m not sure I can justify having a community art group paying someone professional fees out of that amount of money to paint,” said the city councilor of the Ward 1, Lindsey Krom-Craven. “For me, community arts involve your community in different art projects, not a professional.”

Bogner said it was one of three projects currently underway. There is another mural that will be located in another community in the county that will be done by a regional artist and a digital artwork installed in several locations around the county featuring faces and places from Barton County.

“We don’t just want to do murals,” Bogner said. “It’s one thing we can do to make a big impact and get that momentum to get support from other projects as we move into the future. “

Further work is unlikely to require such public investment either, she said.

“I am not opposed to this,” Soupiset said. “I just want to investigate further.”

Bogner understood, but said delaying the project would likely cause them to miss the NHRA broadcast.

For future reference, Mayor Cody Schmidt said they would like to hear from the group before the deadline gets so close.

Another BAM member, Rachel Mawhirter, said they had no plans to come at the last minute. There was a lack of funding.

Also, to align the artist with the NHRA event, a compressed timeline was imposed, she said. “We just had a really unique window of opportunity to try and make that happen.”

Community coordinator Christina Hayes said she used $ 3,000 in municipal marketing dollars each to help paint the B-29 and the mural on the wall of the Dilly and Doc company on Hand. But his marketing funds are exhausted now.

“All future projects will cost no more than $ 40,000,” Mawhirter said. “We want to be able to do quantity. Our goal was to reach the first year, we want to give a boost. We want to dream big.

They also wanted to define the level of professionalism expected when looking for local artists for future works.

She went on to say how much she appreciated the city’s efforts to develop the downtown area. “It’s exciting to see. So we just want to contribute to that momentum.

Mawhirter and Bogner said they are also looking for other funding options, such as grants.

They also said they would be prepared to meet with the council in a working session to discuss their vision for more public artwork.


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