By JOE VINDUSKA
Barton Community College
GREAT BEND — Kansas has an abundance of natural beauty and the Shafer Gallery at Barton Community College will be celebrating this stunning imagery with its “Kansas Byways” exhibit from Jan. 18 through Feb. 19 with a virtual reception at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 18 via facebook.com/shafergallery.
The exhibit features artwork developed using the Kansas Scenic Byways system as subject and inspiration and there are twelve recognized byways in Kansas, which are detailed at travelks.com/ksbyways. Nine of them are scenic, two of which are designated as “National Scenic Byways” and three are historic trails.
“The byways are a component of the National Scenic Byways Program, and both “seek to identify and designate national scenic byways to increase tourism and educate the traveling public about our environment, history and culture,” according to the Kansas Office of Tourism & Travel website.
The exhibit features invited regional artists who were asked to conceive work that reflects one or more of these designated byways. The show was originally conceived with a generous grant from the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism, by the Sandzen Memorial Gallery.
Director of the Sandzen Memorial Gallery Ron Michael said the artists were empowered to use their own interpretations.
“This exhibition is the result of each artist’s vision, ability, and perseverance to create a work that would be true to the exhibition’s intent,” he said. “The imagery could come from direct observation of the landscape or the personal feelings, mood or memories evoked by their own personal experience of it.”
Shafer Gallery Director Dave Barnes said he is excited to share this exhibit with patrons.
“Some people refer to Kansas as a flyover state or a snooze through state, but if you get off the major ‘superslab’ and explore the smaller highways and byways you will discover no shortage of amazing beauty,” he said.
“It’s not always flashy like the sandy shores and rocky coasts of the western seaboard or the majestic mountain ranges of the west but in its own way it is profound and even grand. From the picturesque rolling hills with meandering streams and perfectly round knolls dotting the Smoky Hills, to the incredible sea of grass that extends to the omnipresent horizon of western Kansas, it offers a beauty, sometimes Zen-like sometimes harsh, but always unique and moving to those who have the eyes to see. The artists in the byways exhibit have those exceptional eyes, and their looking has paid off in unique and thoughtful works of art.”
Barnes added that he likes to work alongside like-minded creative organizations as it helps to broaden the horizons of not only the patrons of the Shafer Gallery, but for himself as well.
“It’s great when we can collaborate with sister institutions like the Sandzen Memorial Gallery in Lindsborg and The Hays Art Center to give Barton County folks a chance to experience remarkable art such as this,” he said.
For more information, contact Shafer Gallery Director Dave Barnes at [email protected] or (620) 792-9342. The Gallery is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Masks are required. Admission is always free.