10-foot tall Keeper of the Plains statues invade Wichita

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Dozens of Keeper of the Plains statues have appeared in the City of Wichita.

“Wichita’s most iconic symbol is the Keeper of the Plains, so we were looking several years ago, how do we celebrate what this community is and also how do we celebrate the artistic community inside Wichita,” said Ben Jennings.

Ben Jennings is a managing partner with Together Wichita, a group of about 20 local businesses who have teamed up to select and fund projects aimed at celebrating Wichita and its residents. The group is currently working on a project called Keepers on Parade, where local artists and businesses team up to design, paint and place 10-foot-tall, fiberglass Keeper of the Plains statues throughout the city.

“We thought, what if we take the most iconic image of Wichita and we empower local artists to present their take or businesses to commission a Keeper so they can celebrate why they are part of this community and what makes them unique,” Jennings said.

(Map courtesy togetherwichita.com)

There are currently 25 Keepers on display in Wichita and 11 Keepers in production. Artist Grace Shively, 17, is hard at work in her Wichita backyard painting a Keeper to go outside of Intrust Bank Arena.

“My initial reaction was like, ‘Wow, this would be really cool,'” said Grace Shively.

Shively, who specializes in impressionism, is a senior at Trinity Academy. She’s the youngest artist chosen to paint a Keeper statue.

“It’s really cool to see just how I have grown just in this piece because, obviously, I’m in high school, so I’m still learning,” Shively said.

Shively is about 75 percent done with her statue which includes a farm scene, sunflowers, instruments and a lion. She said she got her concept from Intrust Bank Arena and Berkshire Hathaway PenFed Realty, who is funding the statue.

“They kind of like wanted the music and stuff, so that’s why i did that part on the top. Then, Berkshire Hathaway is the one buying it so on the back of it there is a house and they wanted kind of a little farm house kind of feel,” Shively said.

Jennings said the beauty of the Keeper project is that each one of the statues is different, yet connected to Wichita in some way.

“They all kind of celebrate the same thing and that is the diverse community of artists here in Wichita,” Jennings said.

Each Keeper costs $5,000. The price covers the manufacturing of the Keeper, its weather-proof coating and the artist’s payment. If you would like to purchase a statue, contact Together Wichita at togetherwichita.com.


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