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“The Rainbow Lion” Project

“The Rainbow Lion” Project

It is hard to miss the vibrant new piece of artwork that has found a home on the front corner of Main Street Event in Downtown Hutchinson. Community members have watched on as a team from Lowen Corporation completed the install of a 254” x 254” rainbow colored lion on the southwest corner of the building. While many were in awe of the vibrant colors and the “life” that the lion was starting to bring to the corner, many had questions about the project – who was behind it, why was it going up, were there more coming?

Roaring to Life

In early 2018, Bob and Ann Bush, owners of City Beverage, approached TECH about their vision for a community art project they had been talking about for a couple of years. Bob Bush said, “We went to a conference in Portland in 2014 and couldn’t help but notice all of their large, hand-painted murals throughout the city and remember thinking ‘Hutch should have these too.’ That sparked my imagination and fired up my initiative. I met with Matt Lowen and he convinced me his team at Lowen could do it less expensively than a hand-painted mural and better yet, that it would stand the test of time.”

Bob met with Dorinda Simmons, Director of the TECH Art Program to see if there was a TECH artist that was willing to take on the project. Bob and Ann knew they wanted the painting to have a lion represented but didn’t give any direction to the artists on colors, size or how to visually lay it out. Dorinda and Bob decided to have several artists work on a lion painting and Bob would check in and see which one spoke to him the most.

When asked ‘why a lion,’ Bob said, “Lions represent Respect, Confidence, Strength, Determination, and many other positive emotions. When someone looks at a Lion they come away with very positive thoughts and feelings. Lions live, hunt, and work together as part of a Pride and each have an important role in the success of their Pride.  This is something that we, as a community (Pride), need to always remember, both personally and as a whole.”

Bob and Ann watched as four different lion paintings came to life, each vastly different from each other. Early on in the process, Bob was drawn to Jerimiah Tolbert’s painting called “The Rainbow Lion” but wanted to wait until all of the pieces were finished to make a decision on which painting would be “the one.”  Bob said, “What I loved about Jerimiah‘s artistic interpretation of the many Lion pictures I sent was that it was modern, bright, and youthful but still evoked my feelings about Lions today in nature…strong, smart, confident, tough, and an integral part of a Pride of Lions. And Pride is one of the things in our community needs today.”

Once Bob and Ann made the final decision on which painting they were going with, Lowen went to work printing the graphics. The installation began on a Tuesday morning and was completed by Thursday at lunchtime. The final mural spans over 20 feet high and 20 feet wide. “It’s important for people to know that The Rainbow Lion project was privately funded by the Bush Family and was installed on a privately-owned building, which worked out great as the owner of Main Street Event is a long-time supporter of the Arts in Hutchinson.” Bob and Ann have committed to maintaining the graphics for the next 10 years.

Painting in Color

TECH Artist, Jerimiah Tolbert, has been a part of the TECH Art Program for a little over a year. Jerimiah was excited to be asked to be a part of this project, even though it was only his third painting in the studio. Dorinda said, “he is very patient and a really gifted artist.”

Recently, Jerimiah completed a painting called “Jerimiah’s Big Blue Truck” that was gifted to Steffens Auto Parts in recognition of the Good Neighbor Award at TECH’s Annual Client Recognition Night.  “He loves being a part of these projects but tends to shy away from recognition of his talents and speaking about his participation,” said Simmons. She went on to say, “although, his beaming smile says all there is to say!”

Community Pride

Bob and Ann

are no strangers to giving back and being vested in their community. As business owners, parents, community members, and patrons of the arts, they frequently find themselves asking how they can help. “Bob and Ann’s support of TECH and the people that we serve has been unwavering for many years. Whether it’s allowing the people we serve and our staff to take shelter in their warehouse for a fire drill, sponsoring a variety of TECH fundraising events, and now showing their support for the TECH Art Program by bringing this project to life for Downtown Hutchinson to enjoy, they continually lead the charge on advocating for TECH and our community,” said Brenda Maxey, President/CEO of TECH.

The Bush family has purchased several sculptures for the community, most notably the Eagles sculpture in front of City Hall and have been a strong supporter of the arts in Hutchinson for years. Bob hopes that this project sparks more conversations about public art and the impact that it can make on progress and prosperity for Hutchinson.

“Our community has many blank walls, both Downtown and elsewhere, that would be the perfect canvas for a hand-painted mural or graphic wrap. It would be great to see The Rainbow Lion project help Hutchinson’s Art Patrons to realize the feasibility of this size of art project is possible and is relatively affordable,” said Bush. “I know I didn’t really see the possibilities until I was in Portland and stood next to a wall mural the size of a two-story building and then I knew that we could do it...now you don’t have to go to Portland!”

The mural is located at 2 N Main in Downtown Hutchinson. For more information on this project, TECH and the TECH Art Program, please reach out to Lacey Mills, Director of Marketing and Special Events at (620) 663-1596 or by email at lacey@techinc.org.