Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Part 2 - Contagious Beauty

Lead Artist - Ashley

Day 4 of painting.

Katie and Matt

Looking east down 20th Street.

Our mascot and Hulk gloves...

Sunday, July 3, 2011

from the Topeka Capital-Journal
Painters Work on New Mural Wall Panel

Despite funding challenges to the arts brought about by state budget cuts, the longest mural in Kansas — and second longest in the nation — is getting a little bit longer. Make that 60 feet longer.

Volunteers on Saturday afternoon weathered 94-degree heat to begin painting the seventh — and newest — panel on the Great Mural Wall of Topeka in the 800 block of S.W. 20th.

After the walls were primed earlier in June, outlines for the latest panel were done Thursday night. Local residents were invited to grab a paint brush and climb a scaffold to start the painting process Saturday afternoon. The community effort will continue Sunday before detail work is completed by artists who are spearheading the project. The newest mural should be done by mid-August.

Cicelia Ross-Gotta, left, watches as Andy Valdivia paints part of the
newest panel on the Great Mural Wall of Topeka on Saturday afternoon
in the 800 block of S.W. 20th.

Cicelia Ross-Gotta, 27, of Fort Collins, Colo., who is in town this summer, has been helping with the mural. "I'm so excited," Ross-Gotta said. "It's really cool to see people from the community get together and work on this."

Andy Valdivia, 62, of Topeka, who has painted a large mural in Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church's Marlo Cuevas-Balandran Activity Center, was on hand to paint Saturday afternoon. He said it was his first time painting a mural in a collaborative effort and said he was impressed with the turnout. "I'm kind of amazed at the whole project," Valdivia said. "When I came here today, I thought there'd be a few people who were here to paint, especially in this heat. But this is a community effort."

Organizers said about 25 people showed up to paint.

The new panel will focus on the theme Contagious Beauty and Local Flavor.

Ashley Laird, a lead artist for the project, said the panel is designed to show the interconnectedness of art and the creative spirit. "That's sort of the idea we've been working with," Laird said, "how art is contagious and how it can spread."

The new mural will focus attention on the growing arts community in Topeka, highlighting new endeavors, such as First Fridays, the North Topeka Arts District and reThink Topeka. The panel also will pay homage to artists who left their mark in Topeka, such as Aaron Douglas, Gwendolyn Brooks, Coleman Hawkins and Robert Ault.

The Menninger Clinic, Mulvane Art Museum and Topeka Civic Theater & Academy also will be included for their role in nurturing the development of the arts in the capital city.

Six 60-foot mural panels that have been painted since 2006 already adorn the previously nondescript white concrete outer wall of the former 10-million gallon city water reservoir, located just west of the Kansas Expocentre. The 11-foot-tall wall stretches 900 feet on its east, south, west and north sides.

Completed murals fill the east side of the wall in the 1900 block of S.W. Western and much of the south wall in the 800 block of S.W. 20th. Murals to date highlight Topeka neighborhoods and community leaders, celebrating the city's culture.

After the south wall is completed, more murals are planned for the west wall in the 1900 block of S.W. Fillmore, then the north wall in the 800 block of S.W. 19th. Dave Loewenstein, another lead artist for the project, said he is convinced the mural will continue, even with funding more difficult to come by these days. "It may be a little harder to raise monies because of some things going on in the Capitol, but it's not going to stop us," Loewenstein said. "There are too many people in the community who support this project. I have no doubt we're going to get this thing done."

The mural project was initiated by the Chesney Park Neighborhood Improvement Association as a way to instill pride in central Topeka and beautify the area while curtailing graffiti. The mural space was donated by the city's water division.

Funding has come from public and private sources, including local residents and businesses.

Part 1 - Contagious Beauty

The base coat.

Building the scaffold.

Projecting the design (with chiggers).

Community painting days.





After day 2 of painting...

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Great Wall Mural an 'expression of people's stories'

June 12, 2011

Usually, art is kept indoors, under a thick panel of glass and is credited to one particular artist. The Great Mural Wall of Topeka is anything but usual.

Located on the west side of the Expocentre and near the intersection of S.W. 20th and Western, the project began in 2006. It is led by lead artists Ashley Laird, a graduate of Washburn University, and Dave Loewenstein, a nationally known artist from Lawrence.

"Sometimes art is considered a commodity to be bought and sold," Loewenstein said. "This project reminds us how important art is for the expression of people's stories, where they live and what they aspire to."

Laird and Loewenstein actively involve the people in the community to determine the subject of each Great Wall painting.

"It's their front yard, their backyard, they drive by it every day. The art is much more than paint on a wall," said assistant artist, Cicelia Ross-Gotta, about the embrace of the citizen's input. "Because it's not in a gallery, we have to approach it differently."

The Great Mural Wall of Topeka started as an effort by members of the Chesney Park Neighborhood Association to clean up their area of graffiti and give something beautiful back to the community.

“People's history envisioned” has become the overall goal for the program. Each painting is used to symbolize events, places or people that are important to Topekans, both past and future.

Already, the 900-foot wall has been adorned with six 60-foot long murals, about such topics as the environment, Brown vs. Board of Education, Central Park Neighborhood and others. When the wall is finished, it will have 15 sections of murals. The seventh installment's title is "Contagious Beauty and Local Flavor." The topic is to exemplify the sources of inspiration in Topeka for the townspeople that cause them to create their own art, in any way, shape or form.

Laird and Loewenstein invite Topeka residents to help prime the wall on June 18 beginning at 10 a.m. Participants need not bring any supplies.

Andrea Marshbank can be reached

at t.andrea.marshbank@cjonline.com.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

2011 Mural Begins

New Mural Project at the Great Mural Wall

First Community Meeting

Saturday, May 28th

10 am

Blue Planet Cafe

110 SE 8th

Topeka, KS

In this, the seventh panel on the Great Wall, lead artists Ashley Laird and Dave Loewenstein will work with local artists, arts advocates and neighborhood residents on a sixty-foot mural that celebrates the heritage and continued vitality of Topeka’s creative community.

With looming cuts to arts spending in Kansas and across the nation, the theme of this mural is especially relevant. Through this project, we want to focus attention on the brilliant arts community taking shape here by highlighting Final Fridays, NOTO, reThink Topeka, and the countless other arts offerings sprouting up around town, while also looking back at the many individual artists and organizations that have nourished and inspired its development.


May Research and Design

June Painting

Artists, art advocates and other interested Topekans who would like to help with this project should contact Ashley Laird at: