Thomas Gieseke holding up his Independence Avenue Bridge painting.

Michael Bushnell

Merriam, Kansas based Artist and Illustrator Thomas Gieseke recently wanted to pay homage to the infamous Independence Avenue truck eating Bridge so he did what he originally thought would be a “throw away” painting of the bridge, complete with monster eyeballs, teeth and a reptilian claw drawing what’s left of a truck. From a content standpoint, “there’s the 13 juxtaposed against the 12,” Gieseke chuckled. “Lucky 13 Transport, he’ll make it. Well, no.”  

“I’ll make something simple, almost a throwaway,” Gieseke said. When posted to Tom’s social media accounts, the numbers went crazy. “I thought, you know, maybe I’ll get about seven or eight likes. So far, Gieseke has over 3,000 likes on Instagram and Facebook and the number keeps climbing. 

One look at Gieseke’s art and those of us who are of a certain age see the immediate Ed “Big Daddy” Roth influence. Roth, along with his Artist partner Ed “Newt” Newton were famous for their wild eyed, Rat Fink line of illustrations picturing big teethed,  bug eyed monsters driving souped up hotrods , spitting flames and smoke as they scream down the drag strip . 

Gieseke tells of a time when Charles Smith, the Artist he was sharing a studio with, brought Newton to the house to meet him. “As I’m working on a painting, here’s my hero from the sixth grade looking over my shoulder saying God I wish I could paint like that, and it was like the ultimate compliment, ya know?”

Thomas Gieseke’s Independence Avenue Bridge

 Gieseke continues to reside with his wife in Merriam, Kansas and is focusing primarily on Gallery art since the Illustration side of the business dried up in 2011. In Kansas City his art can be viewed at the Todd Weiner gallery on 18th street and Locust. 

The now famous truck eating bridge painting is available on Gieseke’s website and he states that t-shirts bearing the image will be available soon also. The original oil on acrylic, (shown here) complete with a riveted, angle-iron frame is also available for purchase. For a look at Gieseke’s personal gallery, visit