STORY BY LAURA KRUG
On Friday, August 23rd the Hays Arts Council hosted the 35th annual fall art walk in downtown Hays. There we 24 locations across the downtown area that displayed art which included local businesses, empty storefronts, the Hays Public Library, and studios of local artists. This popular event gathers people from Hays, FHSU professors and students alike to walk around downtown in the evening to visit the many galleries.
Brenda Meder, the executive director of the Hays Arts Council, believes that the success of the Art Walk is due to the unique art community in Hays.
“We are a small midwestern and somewhat geographically isolated community; yet through the process of time and a lot of creative individuals in the last couple of decades a lot of work has been done to let people know that you’re welcome to come out and enjoy,” Meder said.
On the artwork, she says, “It’s not all just the visual arts. We do have wonderful painters, sculptors, and photographers but we also have fabulous musicians, wonderful poets, and performing artists. Creative talent is allowed to be celebrated from segments that we don’t always think of as being artists. This is the opportunity that is given to artists to demonstrate the incredible depth and breadth of what they’re capable of.”
She further comments that for visitors to enjoy the show they don’t have to be an expert in the arts.
“You don’t need to be an artist; you don’t need to be somebody who collects major works,” Meder said. “You don’t need to understand art at all to enjoy the art here.”
The latest show at the Hays Arts Council gallery is Flowers: Real and Imagined, which had its grand opening Friday night at the art walk. Included in the show, there were six artists from outside of Ellis County and seven artists from Hays. Meder invited several local businesses in Hays to create botanical works to be in the show, which included Flowers by Francis, Dillon’s floral, Regina’s floral and Chestnut Street Kitchens. Eight local designers were represented in the floral creations that are in the gallery.
FHSU graduate art student Jared Jennings curated a show of his fellow students’ works at the main street 1010 gallery space. It was his second time organizing a show independently, and this fall it was graduate students’ work including painting, printmaking, sculpture, ceramics, and drawing. He was responsible for transporting the art to the gallery, placing the pieces, and creating show tags.
Graduate students like Jennings welcome the opportunity to display their art to the community, and can even sell their works. Jennings says that for a small town, Hays provides a thriving art scene.
“The community is really open to displaying art. And being an art student, I had plenty of places to display,” Jennings said. “There’s always going to be a viewer for your work.”
The Hays Symphony Orchestra also performed downtown in the pavilion as part of the festivities. The University-affiliated organization is the longest continuously running orchestra in the state of Kansas and was founded in 1914. The diverse group of musicians welcomes anyone with proficiency in an instrument, and members range from students to professors and professional musicians in the community.
In conclusion, the Hays art walk did not only include traditional two-dimensional works of art but also provided a diverse expression of music, sculpture and botanical works for the Hays community to enjoy.