An internationally known artist arrived in Great Bend this week and will paint a mural on the east wall of the building at Forest and Williams over the next few days. The public is invited to watch graffiti artist/muralist Ryan “ARCY” Christenson at work as he creates a tribute to the men and women who served at Great Bend’s airfield during World War II.
This is the first big project of the Barton Arts Movement (BAM), which was formed earlier this year with the mission of “Creating Community Pride through Public Art.” According to Rachel Mawhirter with BAM, members intended from the get-go to add some new mural art in Barton County communities, and then the opportunity arose to commission ARCY as he crosses the country this summer painting murals with the theme “hometown heroes.”
“It looks amazing,” Mawhirter said of an early version of ARCY’s upcoming mural. “It’s all done with spray paint like graffiti, but very lifelike.”
Although they did provide a face for ARCY to paint, BAM didn’t choose one local hero for their subject.
“He was challenging us to come up with a specific person,” Mawhirter said. But so many people served in World War II that the members felt a B-29 pilot would serve as a statement piece that embodies a big part of this region’s history and heritage.
ARCY, who was born in 1989 and lives in Connecticut, has created murals and live paintings throughout the United States and internationally. His clients have included the Smithsonian Institution, Major League Baseball and the National Park Service.
Brentwood Builders painted the wall with primer this week, and the artist planned to start blocking it out Thursday night by projecting an image on the wall after dark.
According to BAM’s Facebook page, “this was all made possible by some pretty key community partners, including Explore Great Bend, KS, Brentwood Builders, and a whole bunch of generous private donors we will recognize very soon. Over the next week, YOU can watch the masterpiece unfold at the corner of Forest & Williams in downtown Great Bend!”
To learn more about the #BAM movement, visit the website www.bartonartsmovement.com.