Colorful changes: Local mural group to start next project

Constance Gehring with the Newton Murals and Arts Project looks over some panels that will be used in the next mural, which will face Main Street. Koehn Painting in Newton is going to prime them and then they’ll be painted by a variety of artists. Wendy Nugent/HC Now

By Wendy Nugent, Harvey County Now

NEWTON—Images that come to mind when people think about Newton include the newly named Newton flag symbol, the railroad, wheat, Harvey Girls, the Old Mill, Blue Cloud Sculpture and saloons.

Images representing these places, people and things are included in the next Newton Murals and Arts Project’s next mural, which also will have images of a cowboy driving cattle, the Historic Fox Theatre, the water tower, grain elevator and a meadowlark, as well as the lettering stating, “NEWTON, KANSAS Established 1871.”

The mural is in its early stages and will consist of 20 4- by 8-foot pieces with a variety of artists painting the artwork, said Constance Gehring, a member of the Newton Murals and Arts Project.

It will be installed just north of the north Old Mill parking lot and south of the train tracks.

Gehring said retired Newton High School art teacher Raymond Olais is the art director.

“We’re very grateful to be working with him,” Gehring said.

They’ve worked on this mural project close to two years, Gehring said, adding they’ve worked with the city of Newton and historical preservation.

“It just takes time,” she said. “The mural is designed by Andrea Braker. There was a group of us sitting around talking about what we would put on a mural that represented Newton and Kansas.”

Those things included the Harvey Girls and Hyde Park gunfight from the 1800s.

The mural will face south, Gehring said, and will be visible to people driving north on Main Street.

“The back of the mural will be a frame holding all these pieces, and there might be a surprise or two in it,” Gehring said.

The mural will be put up in late spring or early summer, Gehring said, adding that artists will get together at some point to paint the panels at the local outlet mall.

The group will supply paint for the artists and Olais will set up the painting schedule and supervise the painting. This will happen after Koehn Painting in Newton primes the panels.

“Another effort [regarding] beautification involving community members, so everybody has a good feeling about participating and working together where they can say, ‘I helped with this,’” Gehring said.

Anyone who wishes to get involved with painting can email Gehring at newtonmurals@gmail.com.

Newton Murals is part of Harvey Arts Connect, Inc., a group with the purpose of promoting all arts in Harvey County.

“We do small projects to raise money and we also accept donations,” Gehring said.

Donations can be sent in care of Harvey Arts Connect, to 725 N. High St., Newton, Kan., 67114.

The mural group consists of 15 artists who have been working together for three years and are volunteers. This is their third large project in Newton. The other two include the sunflower mural on a building off a parking lot on East Sixth Street and on a building north of First United Methodist Church on Main Street.

“We’ve done a number of things that aren’t as visible,” Gehring said.

In July, the group plans to be at Summer Daze, having a make-and-take area for people to create art on recycled signs, which they’ll sell for $5 each.

“They’re like repurposed yard signs,” Gehring said.