By JAMES BELL
The Hays Arts Council’s Spring Art Walk might still be a couple of months away, but work has already begun on the annual downtown Hays event.
The Art Walk will follow a similar format to last year — a day-long Saturday event — and will once again feature Kansas’ oldest juried fine art competitive exhibition, the Smokey Hill Art Competition and Exhibition.
The event will be Saturday, April 30.
“I know that sounds like a long way down the road, but in case there are any artists out there that are thinking … it’s not too early to start thinking about where you might like to, set up a little bit of art and have a little fun with us that day,” said Hays Arts Council Executive Director Brenda Meder.
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She added she can help business interested in participating connect artists.
“I won’t need information until well into April,” Meder said, “but it’s not too early to start thinking about it.”
Similar to last year, the Art Walk will feature a Friday night concert before the Saturday exhibitions.
“It’s going to be amazing the night before, on the 29th, on the Friday, like we did last year, where we kicked off the Art Walk with a Friday night event, which was the jazz concert.”
The Fort Hays State University jazz bands will again perform, and this year she said will be even more special than a typical performance.
“This will be the last year that those jazz bands will be under the direction of Brad Dawson,” Meder said. “He’s still going to be there at the university and other capacities and stuff, but he’s handing over the reins of the jazz band.”
Inside the Hays Arts Council’s gallery, the Smokey Hill Art Competition and Exhibition will anchor the Art Walk.
“The call for entries for the Smoky Hill exhibition just went out, and that is the old state’s oldest juried Fine Art competitive exhibition open to any artist currently living in Kansas,” Meder said.
The exhibition is open to any artists currently living in Kansas and is open to any original art in any medium.
“This is the 53rd annual,” Meder said, and we “have an amazing juror, who’s an artist John Hofmeister, an artist and author. … For years, he was leading the pack for the preservation of the Garden of Eden. … His undergrad degree was in painting, he’s an author and he’s a KU professor emeritus. So great judge, we’ve got lined up.”
Artists looking to sign up can find an online entry form on the Hays Arts Council website, haysartscouncil.org.
Visitors to the website will also find information about upcoming youth programming as well, including the Famous Figures contest information and winning entries from last year, and the Creative Writing contest.
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“Those videos are all still there on our website, so you can get an idea of what the kids are kind of coming up with,” Meder said. “People can still go on our website and watch the ‘Quiet America’ film. So, there’s so much on our website. … But also I really encourage people to follow us on Facebook, because we’ll do a lot of shout-outs and reminders and and quickie updates on things.”
While looking ahead, Meder said there is still time to view the Five State Photography exhibition in the Hays Arts Center.
“The fabulous Five State Photography Exhibition does continue through February the 11th,” Meder said. “We opened it as people probably remember as the anchor of Winter Art already walked back there in early December. But we do let this one run long, partly due to the fact that it’s an amazing show with 150 pieces, it’s worth seeing.”
“There’s 115 fabulous photographs in that show, all 8-by-10, from photographers all across Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Oklahoma and Colorado. And people really have enjoyed the show. I’ve been very pleased with the response.”
The Hays Arts Center is open from 10 am to 4 pm Monday through Friday and on Saturday from 10 am to 1 pm
“Lots of stuff going on this spring, in the schools, in the community and in the gallery Art Walks, so it’s going to be a pretty exciting next few months,” Meder said.