A historic mural project commemorating the African-American troops that fought in the Civil War is moving forward in Fort Scott.
The Fort Scott Area Chamber of Commerce’s Downtown Division applied for and received a Kansas Office of Rural Prosperity grant for $5,250 to have a mural painted on the building that faces the Fort Scott National Historic Site on Skubitz Plaza.
“The 1st Kansas Colored Infantry mural will be facing the Fort Scott National Historic Site,” Chamber Executive Director Lindsay Madison said. ” It commemorates the infantry that was stationed at the fort.”
The grant application was made through a new Fort Scott Area Chamber of Commerce Foundation, which is a 501c3 entity, she said.
Rachel French, who is on the FS Chamber Downtown Division committee, served as the project coordinator, assisted by Taton Majors, with Bourbon County Regional Economic Development Inc. Other members of the downtown Chamber committee are Cathy Bishop, John Crain, Bailey Lyons and Angela Simon.
Deadline for proposals from artists interested in designing and painting the mural was May 31.
Selected artists proposals will be sent to Kansas University Professor of African American Studies, Randal Jelks, to ensure that all drawings are culturally sensitive, French said.
“Then he can make recommendations for possible revisions for design, after that, a local panel here will judge,” French said.
Names will not be attached to the art proposals for judging, to ensure fairness.
The local judges panel includes Trent and Kate Freeman, owners of a local art shop; Whitney Beth, a local art teacher; Katie Hueston, who has been involved in the coordinating of murals in the last two years in the historic downtown area; Kirk Sharp, executive director of the Gordon Parks Museum; Carl Brenner, Chief of Interpretation and Resource Management at Fort Scott National Historic Site; and Jerry Witt, owner of the building on which the mural will be painted.
“After they select a winner, we will reach out to the winner personally,” French said. “We will then make the announcement on Facebook and do a press release on June 19. After that, the artist can start and has to be done by September 1.”
To keep up to date on the mural creation:
The mural will be dedicated during the Gordon Parks Celebration on the first Friday in October, French said.
The $5,250 grant is a matching grant.
“We are fundraising for the match,” French said. “We need to do signage and there will be recognition of donors.”
According to French, other community stakeholders in this mural project are Rob Harrington with Bourbon County Regional Economic Development Inc.; Fort Scott City Manager Brad Matkin; Fort Scott City Commissioners Matthew Wells and Josh Jones; Gordon Parks Museum Director Kirk Sharp; Fort Scott National Historic Site Superintendent Jill Jaworski, and Brenner, also with the fort.
The following is from the press release announcing the grant awards from the Kansas Department of Commerce:
“Awardees are in communities across the state with less than 15,000 population. The murals will highlight community gathering spaces and tourist attractions – and provide a welcome message for visitors and residents alike. Each of the projects requires a 1:1 match from the community, with the smallest of communities allowed to match the grant with in-kind donations. Seventy-five percent of the grant funding will be gifted upfront as several of the city projects plan to start in the next few weeks.”
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