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BAM announces art contest for Final Friday
Contest entry deadline is June 15
Andrea Bauer, left, and Sergio Ramirez from the Barton Arts Movement (BAM) speak at Wednesday’s Great Bend Kiwanis Club meeting. BAM has several projects in the works, including an art contest this month. - photo by photo by Susan Thacker/Great Bend Tribune

The Barton Arts Movement is planning an Art Alley Pop-Up Gallery this month in conjunction with an art contest. Artists have until June 15 to submit a 16-by-20-inch canvas. BAM representatives will choose 20 works to display at the next Final Fridays on Forest event on June 24.

The public can browse the Art Alley entries from 6-8 p.m. on June 24 at the Great Bend Alive! consumption zone (the block in front of the Great Bend Tribune and west of the courthouse on Forest Avenue) and then vote for their favorite canvas. The artist with the most votes will win a BAMMY People’s Choice Award trophy and public recognition from the Barton Arts Movement, said BAM member Andrea Bauer.

The Barton Arts Movement started as an online conversation in 2020 and has since snowballed, resulting in new public art throughout Barton County, said Bauer. She and Sergio Ramirez, another member of the group’s leadership team, talked about upcoming projects when they spoke to the Great Bend Kiwanis Club this past week.

It had been more than 20 years since the last mural project in Great Bend, and BAM started big by commissioning internationally known artist “Arcy” to do the B-29 mural at Forest and Williams and then the “Starting Line” mural on Main Street commemorating the first National Hot Rod Association championship meet in 1955 in Great Bend. Both are important to the history and legacy of the community, Bauer said.

“We spent weeks talking to local historians and digging in archives at historical societies,” she said.

The next projects expanded into the county with Rise Above murals with positive messages in Claflin, Ellinwood and Hoisington, thanks to a grant from the Central Kansas Partnership. These “mini murals” are considered interactive because they are meant to be used as photo backgrounds.

Ramirez said the “pop-up exhibition” this month is open to everyone. “It doesn’t matter who you are, doesn’t matter how old you are,” he said.

In the future, BAM might replicate the exhibition with a focus on certain groups, be they elementary students or senior citizens. “We’ll see how it goes, but we would love to be able to have these little pop-ups in different events.”

He reiterated that the first BAMMY, to be awarded this month, will be a People’s Choice award. “It’s going to be decided by the community, so we’re pretty excited,” he said. “That is coming up pretty fast; submissions are due by June 15. So if any of you want to make some art or have someone near you who might like to participate, have them check out our Facebook page and the details are there."

Another BAM project in progress now is a “digital photo collage mural,” Bauer said. A graphic designer is working on it now and it will be replicated so it can be exhibited in Barton County’s four largest communities.

How to enter this month’s contest

Find information on the Barton Art’s Movement Facebook page, or on the ‘Hype’ section of its website: We have also provided a link here.

Fill out the online entry form and then email a photo of an original 16 by 20 work of art to prior to June 15. Artists must live in Kansas to be considered.

Artists who are selected will be notified and their entries are then due to be submitted at the Golden Belt Community Foundation office, 1307 Williams St., Great Bend, no later than June 20. Easels will be provided for artists to utilize if they need one.

After the event, artists can either contribute their canvas to be displayed in an exhibition somewhere in Barton County or they can request to take the canvas back after the event is completed. There is also a chance that the top-voted artists may be asked to commission a mural in Barton County if they are interested and willing to do so, but that is not a requirement.

The Golden Belt Community Foundation is the fiscal sponsor of the Barton Arts Movement.

About Final Fridays on Forest

From Main Street to Williams Street, Great Bend’s Forest Avenue has been designated as a consumption zone for Final Friday events. The block is closed to motor traffic and tables are set up so the public can enjoy live entertainment, food and beverages. The event runs from 5-9 p.m. on the last Friday of each month.