In 2022, Celina Curry and Andy Ozier painted their mural, “Plant Milkweed, Save the Monarchs” on the second story of the building at the southeast corner of Independence Avenue and Prospect.
The building is home to longtime Northeast Kansas City Chamber members Sharif Store, Metro by T-Mobile, Boost Mobile and Jay’s Grocery and Restaurant.
Ozier and Curry are multimedia artists living in Kansas City, Mo. They met studying illustration at the Kansas City Art Institute in 2011 and have been collaborating on various projects for over 10 years.
“Painting the mural took 30 hours of work between the two of us,” the couple said. “Before we could start painting, however, there was lots to do in coming up with the concept, creating several designs, and attending meetings at the Northeast Kansas City Chamber of Commerce Economic Growth Gallery (EGG).”
Their concept tackled the theme “A Flight Through the International Northeast Gardens of Kansas City” by featuring eastern monarch butterflies as a symbol of international connection, while highlighting the Chamber’s previous work installing pollinator gardens to benefit our native ecosystem.
“We originally created three different designs based on the butterfly’s life cycle,” they said. “Once one was chosen, we made a couple edits before getting started.”
As a married couple, they collaborate frequently on lots of different projects, but this was their first time painting a mural together. Andy has extensive experience painting outdoor walls, while Celina enjoys creating gradient-based murals on interior walls.
“We fell into a natural rhythm of taking charge of different aspects of the design according to our individual strengths,” they explained.
To map out the mural, they took advantage of the wall’s window wells, both as part of the design and as a sort of “grid system” to help guide where to begin painting their design.
“Basically, the windows can be used to visually line up the design while drawing the outlines,” they said. “It also helped to have one person periodically stand across the street and look up from the other side of the intersection to gauge whether everything was in alignment with our mock-up sketch.”
They designed their mural to take advantage of the already vibrant orange of the building, adding a few pops of other colors while remaining cohesive with the building’s overall look.
“We think the graphic pattern of the butterfly wings adds exciting visual interest to such a busy and lively intersection,” they said.
The eastern monarch butterfly is an important pollinator to many plants in our local ecosystem, but its existence is in danger, they explained. Its caterpillars feed exclusively on milkweed plants, so to support this threatened pollinator, it’s important to plant native species, like common or swamp milkweed to name a few.
“We wanted to use the familiar pattern of the butterflies at a large scale to get people interested in learning how they can help out these beautiful and important butterflies,” they said.