Arts News: Artists Head Outdoors for 9th Annual Brush Creek Art Walk

Plein air artist Annie DeGraff participates in the ‘Sunset Paint’ Event at the 2019 BCAW. (photo by Alex Hamil)

While many art exhibitions and programs have migrated online during the COVID-19 pandemic, Kansas Citians can look forward to live art experiences during the 9th Annual Brush Creek Art Walk (BCAW), a three-day outdoor painting event along the banks of Brush Creek and environs running Sept. 18-20.

Regional artists will compete for cash prizes within three “ZONES” along a four-mile stretch of Brush Creek. Last year, the event attracted more than 70 artist participants.

“They keep getting better,” said Alex Hamil, BCAW director since 2015, an accomplished en plein air painter, digital media designer and fabricator, and the son of renowned watercolorist Jim Hamil. “To find the artists within the ZONES is like an Easter Egg hunt.”

Artists choose locations, set up easels and paint at sites from State Line Rd. to the east end of Brush Creek. Favorite locations include Loose Park, the Plaza, Kauffman Legacy Park, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, The Anita B. Gorman Discovery Center, Brush Creek Community Center and many sites in between.

Plein air and studio artist Rick Wright works on a painting of marigolds during the 2019 BCAW Saturday Quick Paint at The Discovery Center. (photo by Alex Hamil)

In addition to seeing artists at work at their chosen locations, the public can attend three “Quick Paint Events” at the J.C. Nichols Fountain, the Discovery Center and the Brush Creek Community Center to see artists in action at specific times. One artist will be selected for a $500 purchase award at each Quick Paint Event.

This year, high attendance is expected. Hamil is still working to keep the event “COVID safe,” and has implemented several changes. Participants will be required to wear masks when six feet of social distance cannot be maintained. Hamil is also exploring online options for artist participants.

Many artists have participated in BCAW since its inception in 2012, including Anne Garney, a local artist who co-founded the event in 2012 at the request of KC Parks and Rec and led it for the first three years. “It’s a homegrown event, and artists make it happen,” said Garney, who last year picked up a second-place award for her Fauvist-inspired painting of the plaza viewed from Brush Creek.

Frequent participant Chris Willey won two first-place awards in 2019 and loves the camaraderie and challenges unique to plein air painting. Willey credits Hamil for his dedicated, skillful organization of BCAW for five years. “Alex does a great job. He really has it down,” she said.

The 9th Annual Brush Creek Art Walk runs Sept. 18-20 on the banks of Brush Creek from State Line Rd. to Elmwood Ave. The BCAW 2020 exhibition opens Oct. 6 at the Anita B. Gorman Conservation Discovery Center, 4750 Troost Ave., and continues through October. A second showing will open in late November at Buttonwood Art Space, 3013 Main St., on view by appointment only through December.

For more information, including dates and times of Quick Paint Events, visit www.brushcreekartwalk.org.

Heather Lustfeldt

Heather Lustfeldt is a writer, educator and arts professional with a passion for public program development and community engagement for audiences of all ages, abilities and backgrounds. Heather lives in Kansas City with her two sons.

  1. Alexander Hamil says:

    Thanks for making this happen. I truly appreciate the support from KCSTUDIO and our Kansas City Visual Artists and Arts Community.
    We can look forward to seeing a number of beautiful works on display throughout Kansas City as this event has just added a third viewing option at a gallery space I helped to establish at Alaris Litigation Services (1608 Locust) for the month of November.

    Alex Hamil – BCAW2020 Director

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