A brand-new mural depicting elements of Arkansas City’s history now decorates a downtown wall thanks to the collaboration of local artists and the Arkansas City Area Arts Council.
Thanks to a grant from the V.J. Wilkins and Legacy foundations, as well as the Warrender Trust, Arkansas City Area Chamber of Commerce President Kammy Downs was able to work with Ark City Arts to create the SEEDS artist mentoring program.
As part of the program, Downs and Mark Flickinger, Cowley College visual and performing arts department chair, joined three other artists in painting a mural in the breezeway space just north of the historic Burford Theatre building.
Flickinger and Downs were joined on the mural by Cowley alumni Maribel Ramirez and Rikki Johnson. Julie Sutton also helped with the mural, which has one eye to the past and one eye to the future.
Ramirez graduated from Cowley College in 2011 and went on to receive a bachelor’s degree from the Kansas City Art Institute in 2015. She currently serves as a paint studio manager in Bonne Terre, Missouri, and assists with an arts and crafts club at an area school.
Johnson graduated from Cowley College in 2017 and will have her work on display at Wichita’s Final Friday Art Show in September.
Flickinger served as a mentor to Sutton, while Ramirez was a mentor to Johnson on the project.
Flickinger enjoyed working with the group and said the Arkansas River became the central theme of the mural.
“I have not seen a collaborative mural that looks this unified,” Flickinger said.
Downs said special thanks go to the Sherwin-Williams paint store in Arkansas City for providing a discount on paint, and she expressed continued appreciation to the V.J. Wilkins Memorial Foundation, Legacy Foundation and Warrender Trust.
She also credited Flickinger with making each individual feel important with her role in the project.
“Mark is such a good teacher. He has the skill and talent to where he could have come in and done this mural on his own, but he allowed us all to have a voice in this,” Downs said.
The formal presentation of the mural will take place in conjunction with an art exhibit to be held at a yet-to-be-determined date in September.
This information was provided by Cowley College Director of Institutional Communications and Public Relations Rama Peroo.