What may have started as graffiti in its early days has grown into a popular art style referred to as street art. Murals and other paintings liven up urban areas. What may have once been a grayish-looking building is transformed into an art piece.
Street art shouldn’t be confused with graffiti. Grafitti by its nature is not true art. It’s a crime. It’s an individual act of violence against a building, if you will. Street art, on the other hand, may be sanctioned or unsanctioned pieces of art.
Kansas City is home to some of the best street art we’ve seen in the Midwest. Much of the work is displayed in a few block radius in the Crossroads art district, just a short jaunt from downtown.
We checked out the art during a recent trip to the city. The art we witnessed was mostly in a long alley way near 17th and Oak streets.
As we started our art walk, even signs promoting art sales were artsy.
The first thing to catch my eye was Wolverine from the X-men series. He stood above the other cartoon characters on display. The art displayed was magnificent. I can only dream of making a mural of stick people on a wall. That WOULD be graffiti, since my art skills are non-existent.
We have a niece in Indiana who is a budding artist. I think she’d love seeing the art we viewed.
The neat thing about street art is that the buildings are an artist’s canvas. I enjoy seeing a Monet or Rembrandt in a museum, but the street art galleries are outdoors, in the elements. It sends a different message to the viewer.
Street art doesn’t have to be contained to paintings or characters.
I loved a robot model chained to a light pole on a street corner. I assume he was chained to prevent someone from stealing him, but you never know.
Just a few feet away, a gallery painted a mural on its front wall honoring the Kansas City Royals and their run to the American League pennant and World Series berth in 2014.
However, we all want to see the cartoon characters, right? Well, back to the animation portion of our story…
The artists doing their “thing” in this section of Kansas City didn’t hold back on their affinity for characters. Among a group of characters was a throwback to my childhood – Gumby! I remember actually having a Gumby figure. It stretched and then went back to its normal size. Cool!!
Dr. Seuss had a shout-out with the Cat in a Hat along one wall.
Lisa’s favorite cartoon character – Tigger – made an appearance. You know the good thing about Tiggers? He’s the only one. Yeah, I know.
Not to be outdone, Bugs Bunny’s alien rival is among the characters – Marvin the Martian.
Papa Smurf says hi to everyone.
Star Wars is not left off the walls. Darth Vader is at the party.
Chewbacca and the gang also made an appearance.
Oscar the Grouch wants everyone out of his alley, including the robot.
The artwork in this alley was outstanding. It was difficult to pick out just a few examples to share.
The art goes beyond just characters. Words can do more than hurt (thanks Geico for the mental image of the cowboy running into the letter E on the commercial), they can be art.
I even attempted to be an artist. Everyone loves black and white photos, right? I attempted to tell a story with the lone boot I found in an alley. Well, did I tell a story? LOL.
As we left the alley for some street art on the, well, street, we were not disappointed.
One art gallery did an amazing job in painting a building-long mural, reflecting something you might see in a “Dick Tracy” cartoon strip. The details were impressive.
We checked out a series of panel pieces on one building. From a giant well-dressed lizard to a remembrance of the Kansas City Monarchs’ Negro Leagues baseball team, the panels were beautiful.
During our walk, we came upon the downtown skyline. Each building seems like it, too, is a piece of art with the city as its canvas. The Power and Light Building, H&R Block building, as well as the Sprint Center arena are pieces of art in their own right.
As we were bidding farewell to all of the fun art, we came upon a Star Trek mural. Captain Kirk, Mr. Speck and Dr. McCoy were all there.
Another piece I really enjoy was a mural of a man’s eyes. But, in his left eye, you can spot the Native American “Scout” statue that watches over the city near downtown.
As we were leaving KC, we made one last stop – at the Power and Light District. The area has two buildings home to great murals recognizing the history of the city, from jazz to Negro League baseball.
Street art is alive and well in Kansas City. It’s amazing what people can do when given an opportunity to display their love, dreams and skill. From the days of being grouped in with graffiti to today’s beautiful paintings, street art continues to amaze me.
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