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Barton County Historical Society completes sign project
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Standing in front of the new artwork at the Barton County Historical Society are, from left: Joe Boley, Beverly Komarek, Matt Kurtz from Identifications, Christi Tustin and Chet Cale. BELOW: Names of donors surround a bas relief sculpture by Great Bend artist Chet Cale. The sculpture/donor wall is the final piece of a signage project at the Barton County Historical Society that began in 2010. - photo by Susan Thacker/Great Bend Tribune

Great Bend artist Chet Cale said he’s thrilled that his latest work faces paintings by internationally famous Charles B. Rogers, who became known as “The Kansan.” Cale’s bas relief sculpture at the Barton County Historical Society is all about central Kansas.
Actually several works of art in one, the pieces fit together like a jigsaw puzzle to tell the story of Barton County, from buffalo to cattle, covered wagons to train to B-29 bombers. There are geese, wheat, old fashion windmills and modern wind turbines. At the center of it all is the farm family.
Cale’s sculpture is surrounded by the names of those who’ve made significant donations to the Historical Society over the years. They replace a mismatched accumulation of plaques, said Beverly Komarek, executive director of the museum.
This “wall of fame” is the final piece in a project that began in 2010, with a gift from Roger Murphy through the Golden Belt Community Foundation. In addition to the wall in the main museum, there are signs throughout the 12 buildings that make up the Barton County Historical Village and Museum, located just south of the Arkansas River bridge on U.S. 281 in Great Bend.
Joe Boley, a member of the Historical Society’s board of directors, chaired a sign committee that was in charge of designing descriptive signs to be placed next to many of the permanent exhibits. The signs explain what the exhibit is and who donated it, along with any other information the committee chose to add. Some sign also feature colored pictures of the pieces, photographed by Marion Lightfoot.
Golden Belt Community Foundation Director Christi Tustin said the sign project was Murphy’s idea, but he chose to remain an anonymous donor until last week.
“He’s been supportive of the historical society for a long time,” Tustin said. “He thought it would be nice to have signs in the museum that told a little about what things were, so as people walked around the museum and looked at exhibits they could learn about things.”
Komarek said Historical Society members did a lot of research and editing as they considered the wording for each sign. They kept the texts short, but there is more information in the museum files for anyone who wants to know more about a piece.
Members were also pleased that this project was all done in Barton County. B&B Metalworks in Hoisington built stands for signs, which were done by Mark’s Signs. Identifications made the nameplates for the donor wall. And, Komarek noted, there is room on that wall for more names.