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As part of the City of Omaha’s commitment to the reduction of illegal graffiti, the prevention of future graffiti and the intervention process of our city’s youth, the Graffiti Action Partners (GAP) group has partnered with The Kent Bellows Studio & Center for Visual Arts to promote their Urban Arts Program.  The program has become a hallmark example of prevention strategy, focusing on positive and productive ways for youth interested in the urban art aesthetic to practice their art form.  The program is individualized, guiding each young person towards making positive choices while developing a sense of ownership for their community. 

 

This program is structured as a collaborative public art project, engaging 3-5 youth interested in the urban art with a professional artist mentor to create each public mural. The Kent Bellows Studio provides a practice space, spray paint, camaraderie with like-minded youth and a positive atmosphere. Area murals are conceptualized by incorporating the youth voice into conversations with the neighborhood center, organization or community providing the wall or location. This is just one step of many that young artists take as part of the process for gaining permission, or what we call the “permission wall process”.   By partnering with the City of Omaha, we guide youth in the responsibilities of public art.  Completed murals address questions such as:

 

  • Who are we? What do we want to say? Who do we want to be?
  • What type and style of images will reflect who we are as a community?
  • What kinds of environment do we want to live in, and how will our mural help to shape it and make that a reality?
  • What are the stories that shape our community? And what are the stories that we want to embrace, preserve and share in the future?

The potential impact on a community is huge.  Well-painted murals can increase the longevity and structural integrity of otherwise heavily vandalized walls.  The resulting murals can be both stunning and can foster a sense of pride in any neighborhood center, non-profit organization or community base.  And finally, the process is life-changing for the youth involved in the program; instilling a sense of accomplishment and community involvement within these young artists.

The Kent Bellows Studio’s Urban Arts Program has completed several community murals throughout the City of Omaha. Programs like this are vital to our young aspiring artists and without the help of corporate and private sponsors; our community’s youth could miss out on this opportunity.

Professional muralists generally price out projects at a rate of $10-$15 per square foot. The Kent Bellows Studio’s murals require a donation of $6 per square foot, with some variation due to actual materials used and difficulty of mural.  The organization’s wish list for this program includes indoor/outdoor practice space, mural locations, paint donations and programming sponsors. Not only do they have students enrolled for upcoming projects, but they also have a growing list of local, talented, traditional and urban professional artist mentors and youth artists perfect for your mural.

Please consider becoming a GAP (Graffiti Action Partner) by sponsoring a project, donating supplies and/or locations for murals. Please contact the Executive Director of The Kent Bellows Studio- Anne Meysenburg at 402-505-7161 for more information. 

To view mural projects completed by The Kent Bellows Studio’s Urban Arts Program- Click Here.
Special thanks to Weston Thompson of The Kent Bellows Studio for the above information.