Chamber seeks artists for Northeast murals

The Northeast Kansas City Chamber of Commerce (NEKC Chamber) is seeking muralists for the 4th Annual Summer Mural Program to “add to the existing mural landscape of Northeast.”

The deadline for submissions is June 19. By June 22, the Chamber will post entries on social media where community members will have the opportunity to give input.

The Chamber staff will gather public comments from social media and discuss the final concepts with the artists.

On July 1, chosen artists will begin the one-month process of creating their murals, which will be focused on healthy livestyles.

Bobbi Baker-Hughes, president of the Chamber and manager of the Independence Avenue Community Improvement District.

The murals will be revealed on August 8 at a ceremony. While the locations have not been announced, the chamber has had conversations with the owners of two businesses whose back walls face an alley.

“The NEKC Chamber oversees the cleanup of over a dozen alleys both north and south of Independence [Avenue],” said Rebecca Coop, 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.”

Normally, two or four artists collaborate on larger walls, but this large “Placemaking Project” may take two years to complete, Coop said.

In May 2019, three muralists were chosen to produce large-scale works along the Independence Avenue corridor including Zachary Laman, Rachael Cross and Dalton Elliot, and Armando Mesa. 

Last year’s theme was the past, present and future of Independence Avenue.

Laman painted a mural, “Three Roosters,” on the east side of the Chamber’s Economic Growth Gallery (EGG) at Independence Avenue and Chestnut. He said the roosters symbolize courage in Mexican culture and good luck in Christian traditions.

Mesa painted his mural on the west side of the old Aaron’s Rental building in the 4800 block of Independence Avenue.

A Northeast High School Vikings mascot and football player and an image of the old Villa Capri restaurant sign that once stood at Independence Avenue and Prospect surround the Aztec sun, which represents the large Latino population in the Northeast.

The mural also depicts a biracial couple with a baby, which Mesa said depicts the rich diversity of the Historic Northeast community.

Cross and Elliot planned a mural welcoming visitors and neighbors alike to the Northeast at Brighton Avenue and Independence Avenue.

It features a postcard design reading, “Greetings from Historic Northeast Kansas City,” depicting Kansas City’s jazz legacy, a couple dancing in the headlights of an antique car, and trees framing the iconic Colonnade.

All of the existing murals have been tied together to create the “Mural Map,” which the 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,” Coop said. “We are here for the long hall and are happy to help with these improvements along with our Avenue business owners.”

Interested artists can submit their ideas at nekcchamber.com by June 19.

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