Abby Hoover  
Managing Editor

Former Mayfair cleaners

In 2018, Meredith Lucius and James Sterling Meid painted a mural entitled “In it Together” on the west wall of 2807 Independence Blvd.

Lucius and Meid planned to showcase the neighborhood through their eyes and brushes for that year’s Northeast Kansas City Chamber of Commerce summer mural program. It was one of five murals painted as a wider collaboration across the Historic Northeast that summer.

The former Mayfair Dry Cleaner at that address, which closed in 2019, was vacant for years before being filled with a new tenant in 2023.

The monarch butterfly was used as a symbol through each piece. Each year, the butterfly travels from Mexico to Canada and symbolizes peace, changes, joy and color.

Rebecca Koop, Event Coordinator for the NEKC Chamber believes the mural stands for more than just the history of the Northeast area.

“It’s another way of telling a story,” Koop said. “The murals are telling a story of immigrants and telling the struggle of how it was for them when they first came to America. Northeast has a history of immigrants coming and building their families here, and our hope is that these murals make them feel more at home.”

The mural project took roughly a week to complete. That summer, the Chamber created a plan to organize a self-guided mural tour to highlight the changes occurring in the Northeast area, one building at a time.

Lina Hair and Nail Salon

“Jornada” or “Journey,” by Héctor Casanova and “Hope” by Isaac Tapia, painted in 2018, are located on the east wall of 2627 Independence Boulevard. The building is home to Lina Hair and Nail Salon and Ted’s Barber Shop.

Casanova is an Assistant Professor of Illustration at the Kansas City Art Institute. A native of Mexico City, Héctor Casanova graduated from the Kansas City Art Institute in 1998 with a double major in Illustration and Art History. He has been working as a fine artist and illustrator in Kansas City for over 20 years, doing work for collectors, magazines and corporations nationally and abroad. His work ranges from editorial illustration and comics to large mural projects and multi-media collaborations with other artists and musicians.

Also born in Mexico City, Tapia moved to the United States in 2000 at the age of nine. He paints his surroundings, which usually incorporate the people and events he connects with. Tapia graduated from Paseo Academy of Fine and Performing Arts in 2010 and studied at the Kansas City Art Institute from 2010 to 2012. Isaac can tell a story behind every person he paints. Tapia began collaborating with Rodrigo Alvarez in the summer of 2017, and since then, they have painted  over 30 Murals in the KC metro area as the duo IT-RA Icons. In his solo work, he predominantly works with oil, but also enjoys working with watercolors. 

Bobbi Baker-Hughes, CEO for the Northeast Chamber of Commerce, said the introduction of murals into a community has positive economic impact.

“Murals, in general and throughout the world, are good for economic development in communities,” she said. “It builds and sparks development. It helps draw attention to buildings and businesses. It might slow people down enough to stop in and shop.”

The Northeast Chamber of Commerce held the first mural tour in Kansas City that stretched from 18th and Vine to Hardesty and St. John This event, she said, helps to kindle development.

“It brought people to this community, including real estate investors and developers, to check out the community and that’s what starts to spark development,” said Baker-Hughes.

The addition of murals in a community, she added, creates a safe space for residents.

“It’s place making. It creates a safe space because it’s a beautification technique and often, if you are someplace beautiful, you feel safer.”