Artists begin annual summer mural

Abby Hoover
Managing Editor


Artists have begun work on this year’s Northeast Kansas City Chamber of Commerce (NEKC Chamber) mural.


The mural will be painted on the back of the BP/Express Stop at 4815 Independence Avenue and face the east/west alley that runs behind the property.


This year, the project will be collaborative, combining ideas and styles from each of the artists chosen. The theme “Healthy Lifestyles” will be portrayed through the artists’ work.


The chosen artists, Emily Alvarez, Isaac Tapia, Madison Sanchez-Martin, Phyllis Hernandez and Zac Laman, submitted designs ranging from baseball and soccer players to dancers, landscapes, staying healthy during COVID-19, and paying tribute to healthcare workers.


“The NEKC Chamber oversees the cleanup of over a dozen alleys both north and south of Independence [Avenue],” said Rebecca Koop, Business and Community Events Director. “We want to change the purpose and perception of an alley that has become rundown/misused and under utilized. Paving, beautifying and perhaps adding lighting will make that space a safe place to bike, skateboard, chalk and walk.”


All of the existing murals have been tied together to create the “Mural Map,” which the NEKC Chamber uses to develop tours of its footprint and encourage Northeast residents and visitors to explore the area.


“We want people to get to know Northeast’s cultures, restaurants, businesses, housing stock, parks, churches and schools,” Koop said. “We are here for the long haul and are happy to help with these improvements along with our Avenue business owners.”


For Sanchez-Martin, this is her first contribution to the urban landscape of Northeast.


“I am excited to be participating in this annual event with Northeast Chamber for the first time, having just graduated from the Kansas City Art Institute painting department,” Sanchez-Martin said. “I am an artist from Kansas City and was brought to this opportunity by Hector Casanova for wanting to represent healthy lifestyles, community, and culture through public artwork and murals.”


She was inspired by this year’s theme, and is excited to produce a mural about cultivating healthy lifestyles through gardening, fresh food and yoga.
Veteran mural artist Zac Laman has lived in Historic Northeast for 4 years.
“I’ve painted three murals in the Northeast and am currently working on one for the Kansas City Museum,” said Laman, whose medium of choice is paint.


“My design is about using your imagination to see uplifting things in the chaos,” Laman said. “That is why I chose to paint an image of my daughter’s face in a cloud. Which is called the pareidolia effect.”


Laman was furloughed from his “day job” because of COVID-19. After that, he decided to become a full-time artist and a stay-at-home dad.


The base coat of the mural is up. Check back here for updates on progress as the newest Northeast mural gets underway.

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