Hallmark artists paint a better picture for rundown, foreclosed homes in Midtown

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A kaleidoscope of color is flowing out of the minds of a dozen artists at Hallmark. But this time, they aren't designing cards or wrapping paper. It's a much more personal touch.

"For me, doing something for the community is what is really good use of my time," said Grace Speicher, a Hallmark designer.

Every year, Hallmark gives employees something known as "My Five Days." It's a week to work on projects near and dear to their hearts. Employees say the break helps them refresh their creativity while doing something they're passionate about.

"One of the things that I love is they offered this option to help out in the community," Speicher said.

This year, a dozen artists decided to put a personal touch on Midtown.

"We partnered with Land Bank and LISC to take homes and paint the panels that are on the homes," Speicher said.

Those panels will turn into doors and window coverings on five homes owned by The Land Bank. The homes getting the artistic upgrade are foreclosed on and owned by the bank. The Land Bank is looking for people to buy and rehab each property.

The city hopes the added artwork will help potential buyers look past a few blemishes.

"It's really about getting people to stop in that neighborhood and say, "Well, maybe this house does have potential,'" said Chad Erpelding with Land Bank.

Everyone involved in the project thinks it's a winning idea.

"They found that the homes that had these panels decorated sold faster, and they were less likely to be broken into. So to be able to do that in a way that's beautiful really is a meaningful thing for us to do," Speicher said.

And the artists said they hope the painted panels add some beauty to KC neighborhoods.

"I would want to see this when I wake up in the morning, so I hope the neighbors that live next to these houses will feel the same way," Speicher said.

The panels will be added to homes along the Prospect Corridor in the coming days.