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Alley Art: Volunteers sought for ‘paint by numbers’ mural
With a spray can in hand, Melanie Ryan is shown in the alley between Forest and Lakin avenues on Friday morning. Ryan was painting lines on the street that will become a giant “paint by numbers” mural to be done by community volunteers on Saturday, Sept. 10. - photo by Susan Thacker

Community members are invited to take part in an outdoor “paint by numbers” event that will turn the alley between Forest Avenue and Lakin Avenue into a colorful street mural. Volunteers can sign up for any of the five 90-minute shifts for this Saturday, Sept. 10:

• 8-9:30 a.m. - Prepping and Priming

• 9:30-11 a.m. - Priming

• 12:30-2  p.m.; 2-3:30 p.m.; and 3:30-5 p.m. - Paint by Numbers

The sign-up form also has an option if you want to receive a text message at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday if the painting isn’t done and additional volunteers are needed.

To find the sign-up form online, go to the Barton Arts Movement website,, and click on “hype.” Volunteers are asked to sign up prior to Thursday, Sept. 8.

The "Art Alley" street mural is a Barton Arts Movement project being conducted in partnership with the local group Great Bend Alive, and was approved by the Great Bend City Council. It will be painted directly onto the pavement using specialized paint.

Sara Hayden, president of Great Bend Development Inc., noted that Great Bend Alive is a nonprofit organization working to improve the downtown area and to help recruit young professionals and young families back to the area.

“This project will allow members of the public to get involved in a paint-by-numbers style format, assisting with the prepping and priming of the surface, followed by the painting itself,” Hayden said. “We are so proud to partner with the Barton Arts Movement on this volunteer work day, and can’t wait to watch the community rally behind this new project to bring Art Alley to life!”

The design was developed by local artist Melanie Ryan, who is credited with spearheading the implementation of the new mural. On Friday, Ryan was in the alley behind Dry Lake Brewing spray painting straight lines.

“Right now I’m just getting a nice perimeter so everybody can stay between the lines,” she said. The next step will be adding a coat of primer. “Then I’ll lay in the pattern and I’ll put the numbers in each section.”

Ryan said painters will work through the numbers in order so no one is stepping on paint. “It’s kind of like laying  tile.”

Who can help

Volunteers must be at least 14 years of age and able-bodied, meaning they can squat, kneel, lift at least 25 pounds, and endure hot temperatures without risk of injury. Anyone interested in participating can sign up using the online form prior to Sept. 8. More details will be provided in a text or email reminder a day or two before the Volunteer Work Day.


The new street mural is part of a larger-scale effort to revitalize and energize the downtown Great Bend area. Great Bend Alive also sponsors Final Fridays on Forest, featuring live music, food, drinks and games on Forest Avenue in the block in front of the Great Bend Tribune. Art Alley is on the south side of the block.

Donations are still being accepted by Great Bend Alive to help fund approximately $4,500 needed for paint and supplies for Art Alley. Artist Melanie Ryan donated her time to this project and is not receiving any professional fees. 

“We are so grateful to Melanie for generously offering her time and talents to this project to make it a reality,” Hayden said. “This colorful new street mural will be such a welcoming and vibrant addition to all the other exciting changes in downtown Great Bend.”

Learn more about Great Bend Alive, or donate to help fund Art Alley by visiting