The rising heat is an annual sign for me to get out in the blazing sun and throw myself at the mercy of all biting insects, or in other words get painting on some new murals. This summer, I'll be sticking around the region with projects in Topeka, Ottawa and Haven, Kansas, and one in Iowa City.
Right now, I'm working in Topeka on the second to last panel of the Great Mural Wall, a ten-year project to transform the retaining wall around the city's old reservoir at 20th & Western into a collection of stories that celebrate neighborhoods and explore cultural history. The theme for this panel is water - where it comes from, how we use it, how its threatened, its history in this part of Kansas, and the ongoing struggle to ensure it is clean and available to everyone. Collaborating on this project are local residents who met at the Topeka & Shawnee Library, Quincy Elementary School Students, the Topeka Water Division and noted artist Lisa Grossman. Everyone is invited to come help paint in early June. I'll post details soon.
Later in June, I'll head up to Iowa City to paint one of the few murals I've done that isn't a full-fledged community project. Working with project coordinator, Thomas Agran and folks at Beadology and Over the Moon businesses, I have designed a mural that contemplates the alley culture of downtown and sources of light at night. Think cell phones, fireflies, a full moon, constellations and giant raccoon. If you're in Iowa City June 17-30, come by and I'll be there.
In July, assuming I haven't succumbed to heat stroke and mosquitos, I will begin what aims to become a multi-year cross-disciplinary project to celebrate the life and vision of Ottawa, Kansas artist and lepidopterist William H. Howe. Working in collaboration with the Ottawa Arts Council, Ottawa Main Street and the Franklin County CVB, I'll be recreating one of William's iconic paintings as a mural downtown. The mural will kick-off a project that will include butterfly gardens and a new permanent exhibit about William's life and work.
And before the weather turns, I'll finish up this season in Haven, Kansas, a small town south of Hutchinson. Thanks to the local art teacher Kylee Baldetti, the City of Haven and support from the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission, we'll be engaging in a community-based project to imagine Haven as a place and an idea. The mural will be located prominently on the Main Street hardware store and will undoubtedly be a catalyst for conversations and stories about what it means to live and work in Haven.
I am grateful to all of the people who help bring these projects into reality. It takes imagination, belief and a lot of hard work. I could never, and wouldn't want to, make them alone.