KANSAS CITY, Mo. — March Madness is long gone, but there’s another kind of madness that’s always around in Kansas City: Mural Madness!
The metro is home to countless walls splashed in colorful paint, murals that are meaningful in their own unique way.
If you follow FOX4 on Instagram, you know we’ve been highlighting metro murals for the past few months.
Alana LaFlore found some of the artists behind the paint brushes who prove their work is more than a pretty backdrop to pose in front of.
Interactive Map: Where to see some of KC’s most iconic murals
[protected-iframe id=”c1c04afb0791f6c2fa2c5bfde6a8bb76-28016812-38006261″ info=”https://uploads.knightlab.com/storymapjs/a4876aed520fc173c5c20a1bd385e27b/fox4-mural-madness/index.html” width=”100%” height=”800″ frameborder=”0″]
Brandon Baker keeps his lens open to document as many murals as he can.
“You have Scribe, you have Sike, you have Jason/RifRaf. There’s so much of a variety of talent,” Baker said of just a few artists who help decorate the Kansas City landscape.
He shares all of his pictures on the KCGraffiti Instagram account.
“My goal is to bring more people to the artists and help people explore the city more,” Baker said.
He also coordinates SpraySeeMo, an annual mural festival. Artists come from all over to add their street art to Kansas City’s blank canvases, and Baker is there for all of it, snapping away.
“With people buying buildings, the murals, they’re not going to last forever. So, for me, I think it’s important to document the murals for future generations that grow up in KC or people who don’t live in KC, who want to know more about the art scene we have here,” he explained.
And that art scene is expansive. There’s Art Alley.
“You go in there with a can of spray paint and you can throw a piece up,” Brandon Maker said.
And murals painted by artists who make a living from their work.
“I’ve lived in other cities and I don’t think you would have the opportunities you do here,” Steven Bohall said.
Bohall has murals all over the metro. His latest is at the new J. Rieger Distillery in the East Bottoms.
“This is really cool because this is from way back in the day when J. Rieger was selling before they were closed down for Prohibition. This is the old monogram logo,” Bohall said.
Bohall has painted out his niche, just like other local artists known for their unique styles.
“This is probably my favorite. I’m lactose intolerant, but I love the ice cream. My kids love it. And I feel like a lot of people love taking pictures under it, being under the sprinkles falling down,” JT Daniels said.
The mural at Betty Rae’s in the River Market is Daniels’ creation. Fun fact: He also designed the label for Lipton Brisk Iced Tea.
Everything has his signature.
“I added the words ‘yep’ and ‘sup.’ ‘Sup’ is: Surviving under pressure. Because I feel like everyone as humans are surviving under pressure at some point, and then ‘yep’ is a very Midwestern thing. I learned that from my grandfather before he passed,” Daniels said.
Some may be hidden, but all of Kansas City’s murals have messages.
“The zebra is a metaphor for myself as a biracial person, and so I like to show the zebra doing fun things, like leading a pack of horses or running free on a wall,” Phil “Sike Style” Shafer said.
The happy zebra races around Kansas City thanks to Shafer, who runs Sike Style Industries full-time.
“I employ a team of people that help me out on some of the projects, such as the zebra here. So shoutout to Mike and Ben who helped me paint this,” Shafer said.
Zebras, and all sorts of creatures, bring Kansas City together, and create all sorts of actions.
“It causes the public to come outside and look and see what’s going on. And I always feel that artists who do public work, we become place makers,” Daniels said.
They also serve as motivation for others to follow their dreams.
“I’m thankful I get to do what I love. (It) taught me persistence and patience, and how to deal with disappointment, and made me a better man,” Bohall said.
Whatever the message, it’s for all to enjoy.
“Public art is a chance for people who don’t know about art to at least enjoy and engage in it. The idea that I guess it’s a demonetized form of artwork. There’s no entry fee to see a mural, you can just walk by and see it and you don’t need to feel like you’re an elitist in a gallery or snooty in a museum. It’s there for the public and for everybody,” Shafer said.
If you don’t see the interactive mural map towards the top of the page, click this link to visit it. You can also follow FOX4 and Alana LaFlore on Instagram to see highlights of murals featured in the past, and others we’ll feature in the future.
Do you know of a great mural not featured in this story or the map? Leave a message and let us know!