Downtown Hays Features “Art Walk”


On August 24, 2018, at 7:00 PM, The Bricks in Downtown Hays came to life for the Fall Art Walk. Four times a year, artists of all trades and abilities showcase their talent for the public. The night began with music, compliments of the Hays Symphony Orchestra. Sitting in the new pavilion built by Fort Hays students last spring, I enjoyed the sounds of students, faculty, and community members alike.

















In the Hays Arts Center on 11th Street, art enthusiasts filed into a room full of realistic paintings and photos.  Walking through the door, I did a double-take as I recognized a painting that is featured on the wall near the Ballroom in the FHSU Memorial Union titled “History Holds the Future”, and the signature was “Bruce Burkholder”. Under the name was a set of dates: 1989-2009.  “I worked on that over 23 years,” the artist commented.

Fascinated by numerous pieces of art including landscape pictures, seasonal photos of Picken Hall, and very realistic paintings of various people, buildings, and places, I wandered through the gallery. Burkholder began by explaining that as a child of 5, he loved jumbo Crayons. By the time he was 7, his brother bought him a drawing set with charcoal sticks and pencils.

“At that point, I knew I was an artist,” Burkholder said. “I just turned 66, so it’s been this long strange progression over the years.”

As our conversation continued, he went on to talk about the inner parts of his artistic ability, and how he really does not know what it is inside of him that allows him to paint.

“It’s a blessing and a curse,” Burkholder said.  “You’ve got to find it within yourself. What’s in your heart and soul, the rest of it doesn’t matter. You’ve got to carry that through. For me, the brush in my hand and that one little spot I’m working on transcends something to my soul and when I get it done, I’m never totally satisfied with it, but I just say, ‘I’m done with it’.”

His message for artists of all styles is that even if he is not happy with his own work, at least someone else will enjoy it and may even be inspired to pick up a brush.

Traveling north on Main Street, attendees passed Collin McMillin, a saxophone street performer, then entered several different buildings in which artists displayed their work. In Madd Matter, Hays resident, Wendy Tan, described her work to passersby. Tan’s collection included many acrylic paintings as well as ceramics,.

When I asked about her inspiration towards her ceramic work, Tan stated that she wanted her work to represent the pollution that was contaminating the environment.

“I’m using clay as my medium so I make it cracked, so people will look at is as dry land and will realize that this is not the result we want,” said Tan.  

In the new Hays Community Theatre venue on 8th Street, work by two high schoolers was displayed. One was Lane Werth, a Junior attending Thomas More Prep-Marian High School, who told me about his inspiration for his favorite drawing titled “Space Oddity”. It featured Michael Jackson, David Bowie, John Lennon, and Prince.

Due to his boredom with one subject in a work, he went on to say that the combination of all four was perfect for his pencil drawing.





















“The main goal here was to capture the emotion, such as Michael Jackson when he is performing in concert and the raw emotion on his face, Bowie with his cigarette in hand, Prince and his modeling, and John Lennon over New York City,” said Werth.  

From amateur to professional and anywhere in between, art of all shapes and sizes is found at the Art Walk each season. The next event, the Winter Art Walk, will take place on Friday, December 7th, 2018.

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