Children to paint 'A Prairie View' on north wall of Arts Center

Mural will include grass, sky and lots of bugs

The new Lawrence Arts Center may be a vibrant, energetic environment for creativity, but you wouldn't know that by looking at its northern exterior wall.

Row upon row of stacked gray cinder blocks do the trick -- they support the structure at 940 N.H. -- but they're not much to look at.




What: "On the Wall," a Lawrence Arts Center workshop during which children will paint "A Prairie View" on the northern exterior wall of the new arts center.When: 1 p.m.-3:30 p.m. April 27, with a May 4 rain dateWhere: Lawrence Arts Center, 940 N.H.Cost: $26 per child-adult pair. Some scholarships are available. Enrollment is limited. Call Laura Rose at 843-2787 to reserve a spot.

That will soon change.

Area children armed with paintbrushes and rollers will cover the sterile facade with a view of the Kansas prairie, complete with larger-than-life versions of the insects that inhabit the tall grasses.

The painting workshop, called "On the Wall," is scheduled from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. April 27 with a rain date of May 4. The fee is $26 per child-adult pair; some scholarships are available. The activity is open to the community, but a special invitation has been extended to Big Brothers Big Sisters.

"These walls are pretty stark out here right. They're pretty plain now," said Linda Reimond, the arts center's preschool director. "We know that it will be temporary, but it will be there until they get another building built here."

The developers coordinating the Downtown 2000 project, 9-10 LLC, own the land north of the arts center and plan to put a two-story building on the lot. No timeline has been set for erecting that structure, which would house retail space on the ground floor and office space above.

In the meantime, arts center preschool alumni Will Pendleton will loan his 4-H bug collection for children and their parents to look at as they decide which critters to add to the two-dimensional landscape. Reference books also will be available.

The mural, "A Prairie View," will be 10- to 12-feet tall and 35- to 40-feet long. The backdrop will include strips of blue Kansas sky and golden prairie.

The project is for children 6 and older, and though they must be accompanied by an adult, the children will do the work.

"This is a kid's project. They will be using the big rollers that you use to paint walls and the ones with the long handles to get up to the top," Reimond said. "Mainly, parents are there to be their assistants.

"Can't you see some kid on their parent's shoulders with a roller?"

The project is being funded, in part, by a Kansas Good to Great Award from The Self-Help Network Center for Community Support and Research. The awards aim to help make Kansas "the best state in the nation to raise a child."

The mural project will put art by children in a highly visible spot. That's a good thing, Reimond said.

"Kids' art is important, and it needs to be seen. This is an opportunity for an art activity for children with adults. It's kind of a bonding thing," she said. "It sounds like fun to me. I wish my grandson were older."

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