National documentary filmed in Wichita


Jeromiah Taylor

Wichitans Sophie Santo and Susie Santo participate in the public art event hosted by CityArts on Friday Aug. 23 as part of the cross-country #AmericART2019 documentary.

Wichita’s humble art scene just got noticed in a big way. 

#AmericART2019, a travelling documentary designed to explore the arts in lesser known communities, was in Wichita from Friday, August 23 to Saturday, August 24. #AmericART2019 filmed a public art project hosted by CityArts on Friday and filmed in Wichita until Saturday. The documentary visits 10 U.S cities and will culminate in a one hour film and a six episode series. 

The goal of the documentary is to reach everyday Americans ⁠— to collect authentic stories and personal relationships with art and culture.

Naomi Shapiro, Communications Specialist for the Arts and Culture Division of the City of Wichita, thinks Wichita is an ideal destination for #AmericART2019. “They had a linear path across the U.S from Brooklyn to Sonoma County and we’re smack dab in the middle, so I think we were an obvious choice,” said Shapiro. 

Dozens of Wichitans filed in and out of City Arts on Friday night. The public art project, hosted by CityArts, offered all of Wichita the opportunity to paint on a shared canvas. Wichitans of all ages participated in #AmericART2019 as their film crew captured their creative contributions. 

Although geography may have helped Wichita to be featured in the film, local organization Visit Wichita was instrumental in making the documentary crew’s visit possible. 

“We have helped to facilitate and assist them,” said Visit Wichita Public Relations Manager Jessica Sawatski. “#AmericART2019 has selected 10 cities and we’re excited to be one of them.” 

The black canvas quickly filled with messages painted in white supporting the arts in Wichita. One gallery goer simply painted the words “Kansas needs art.” As these paintings surfaced, the activities of artistic Wichitans were preserved for progeny by the discreet cameras of #AmericART2019.

The significance of Wichita’s inclusion in the film was not lost on Sawatski. 

“This is an opportunity to highlight the culture and art scene that we have in Wichita,” said Sawatski. “Hopefully [viewers of the documentary] see that Wichita is a community that has a really vibrant art scene and hopefully they’d like to come and see it in person sometime.”