About NMAP

Newton Murals & Arts Project History

By Constance Gehring

Newton Murals and Arts had its beginning when a group met in the spring of 2017 with the idea of painting a mural. Curtis Stubbs had offered the east wall of the Stubbs building at 526 N. Main as a location for the mural. After eighteen months of planning, the project was underway.

The mural was mostly created by donations of service and time. We received funds from the Rotary Club, a grant of $500 from Volunteer Kansas, and a donation of $500 from a private donor. The wall was in great shape and ready to go. Leroy Koehn donated the base coat, and Regier Construction loaned us a lift.

Raymond Olais, a Newton High School art teacher, donated the graphic design elements, and volunteered students from the NHS Art Club as painters. High School students each created a sunflower design, which Raymond then incorporated into the mural design. Students and other Newton Murals volunteers painted for six weeks, completing the mural at the end of October 2018.

Mural Organizers

Sunflower Mural Workers

Along the way, we attracted a number of artists who enjoy painting and were willing to donate their efforts toward creating more murals. Christa Jahay encouraged us to paint panels as a fundraising project. The first showing of panels took place during the dedication of the Sunflower mural in March 2019. They were displayed in front of the mural wall and at the Carriage Factory Gallery on East Sixth Street.

Around that time, we also incorporated under Harvey Arts Connect as a 501c3 with the purpose of bringing beauty to the community and encouraging expression through creating art. We had applied for several grants by this time and understood that our fundraising needed to come from several sources.

We are an ongoing participant at Summer Daze, both to create art with the community and to sell panels, cards, and other items we have created. A community mural of a tree, made by the hands and feet of over 70 persons, was created at Summer Daze 2021, and will be installed this spring at the Giving Garden near St. Matthews Episcopal Church.

Community Garden Mural

Eagle Mural

Our second mural is at 817 Main, commissioned by Stephen Owens. He wanted to honor the Newton Police and Fire Departments, and chose a design created by Jennifer Weigel that combines an eagle and a train. Our volunteer artists worked on this mural for eight weeks, concluding at the end of October 2019.

Our most recent mural, the Newton Historical Mural, is located at the north edge of the Old Mill parking lot on Main Street. Due to supply chain issues and fundraising concerns, the mural took two and a half years from conception to installation. The design was created by Andrea Braker. Twenty-one artists donated 274 hours painting this mural over a three-and-a-half-month period. We are grateful to Leroy Koehn, Regier Construction and Blasted Signs for their in-kind contributions, and many others for their donations. We also received a matching grant from KCAIC for this project. Currently the south-facing mural side of the project has been installed; the north side has yet to completed.

Going forward, we have two projects for 2022 for which we are seeking help. First, we plan to begin the Ice House mural this spring, at 414 East Oak Street. Rich Stinnett is the designer of a tie-dyed version of the Newton flag. We are working with the City of Newton, which will install lighting so the mural can be seen at night from the Amtrak trains passing through.

The second project is rehabbing the Imagineers, a mural installed at 3rd Street and Main in 2010. The mural has been touched up once and is now badly in need of repainting. We made repairs last fall, and when funds have been raised, the mural will be repainted as needed, and varnished. The artist, Dave Lowenstein is willing to return to Newton to repair the mural. The area at 3rd and Main will one day be a beautiful center of town. We believe renewing this mural is important to the area.

A possible third project for 2022 is the R. Michael Rhoades Community Wetlands Project. Work is underway on this project, located in wetlands north of Highway 50 and SW 14th Street. Newton Murals and Arts will put out a request for designs with a bird theme to create panels which will be added to kiosks along the pathways and bird-watching areas. The project will include the work of five artists. The bird sanctuary will add to the amenities of Newton, attracting walkers and bird watchers.

We need to raise funds of $10,000 to complete these projects. Contributions may be made by:

  • Checks: made out to Harvey Arts Connect, 725 N. High Street, Newton, KS 67114

  • PayPal: user is newtonmurals@gmail.com; account is Harvey Arts Connect

  • www.gofundme.com/imagineers

Newton Murals and Arts is a volunteer group. We are extremely grateful for our artists; without them we would not exist. For a complete list of our artists and other information please visit our website: www.newtonmurals.org