Arts & Culture

Bomb Shelter art show ‘an exchange of ideas and energies’

The basement of Anna Murdock’s Cafe will be transformed into a multi-sensory art happening for Final Friday. The vision for organizers of the Bomb Shelter is to democratize art and make exhibiting accessible to anyone with creative aptitude. The result is an amplified experience that will have gallery-goers dancing to music in a maze of artistic expression.

This will be the fourth installment of the Bomb Shelter, an event first conceptualized in 2011. Its name is a twist on the practice of “bombing,” where graffiti artists illegally paint or make their mark on public or private property without permission.

Hugo Zelada-Romero, the Bomb Shelter’s creator and lead organizer, said the idea is to give people with creative talent a safe, appropriate space where they can express themselves. Many of the traditional constraints for showing at a gallery are absent at this event. For example, artists who can’t afford matting and frames can simply showcase raw canvasses or drawings without having to hang their works, because of the vast amount of open space the vacant offices provide. He also said that the event fills a void.

“There’s a serious lack in Wichita for group shows and available spaces where anybody can show,” he said. “Unless you’ve got connections to a gallery or have a more academic background, it’s harder to find a place where you can get your work seen.”

To make the event happen, Zelada-Romero and co-organizers did an open call that resulted in more than 40 people showcasing works of all sizes that represent multiple mediums and styles. Portraits relating to the Trayvon Martin shooting, an installation based on the immigrant experience, and an interactive exhibit of flowers conceived by Chinese contemporary artist and activist Ai Wei will be part of the offering.

There also will be real-time T-shirt screen printing, poetry readings, bands and a late-night dance party from midnight until 2 a.m. that will feature new music on synthesizers and laptops with a distinctive chillwave vibe. Much of the event, including interviews with participating artists, will be live streamed online at

David C. Warren, Bomb Shelter co-organizer, said that the atmosphere will be like an upbeat party.

“It will be a multimedia experience from bands to performers to visual artists to just people having fun and seeing each other and enjoying each other in a space that encourages creativity rather than consumption,” he said.

Established artists such as David Murano, Jack Wilson, Brian Hinkle and Bob Schwan will be showing next to young, emerging artists like Marissa L. Miller, a recent high school graduate who will be participating in her first group show.

“I’m trying to get my name out there since I’m just starting out,” Miller said. “I want to make connections, meet new people. It’s really exciting.”

Zelada-Romero thinks that dynamic will allow artists who wouldn’t normally talk to each other to connect.

“Because there is such a wide range of people who are showing I think it’s more stimulating. It’s really about an exchange of ideas and energies,” he said.

Artist Ray Carney said he appreciates how grassroots the show is and that it allows an entry point into the art world for everyone.

“There is no resistance,” Carney said. “People can show and we can break down a barrier for how art can be shown for people who don’t necessarily have an academic degree or background. It’s really more of a cultural event than just a gallery event.”