Sunday, May 3, 2015

Capital - Journal article about new mural

Community invited to paint alongside Lawrence muralist at Great Mural Wall of Topeka
(published originally in the Topeka Capital-Journal)
May 2, 2015
By Ann Marie Bush
A few raindrops Saturday afternoon didn’t keep Lawrence muralist Dave Loewenstein from picking up his brush and working on the next panel of the Great Wall of Topeka. Loewenstein is serving as the lead artist for the ninth panel on the wall, of which the theme is How Topeka Got Its Name. He has served as lead artist on four other panels at the Great Mural Wall of Topeka, S.W. 20th and Western.
The wall was started in 2006 when Chesney Park Neighborhood Improvement Association members power-washed a 60-foot section of the 11-foot-tall wall of a former water reservoir. The wall stretches 900 feet on its east, south, west and north sides. Panels include a Tribute to Grant Cushinberry, The Road From Brown v. Board, Reanimating the Arts in Topeka, the Kansas Women’s Mural and more. Other lead artists have been Ashley Jane Laird and KT Walsh. Panels have been painted by neighborhood children, Topeka High School students and people from all around the city. “One thing has led to another,” Loewenstein said. “It’s really a grassroots effort.”

Ashley Russell, a Washburn University student, is Loewenstein’s assistant for this panel. He hopes Russell will be able to serve as a lead artist on a future panel. However, space is quickly vanishing as more panels are added. About 50 people stopped by last weekend to help Loewenstein during community paint days. People again were welcome to paint Saturday — the threat of rain kept some away. The last community paint day for this panel will be from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. However, people are always invited to stop by and lend a hand — or brush. “I think by the end of the month we should be done,” Loewenstein said.

Planning for How Topeka Got Its Name began in the fall with a design process, Loewenstein said. Jimm GoodTracks, of the Ioway Tribe, and others helped research how Topeka received its name. The word “Topeka” comes from an Ioway word meaning “a good place to dig for potatoes” (also called prairie potatoes or prairie turnips). “It was a staple crop for that tribe,” Loewenstein said. “It was an important food source.” The panel will show the prairie potato plant and members of the Ioway tribe showing others the plant. It also will depict a classroom teacher telling the “folk story” about how a Native American looked down at his moccasin and discovered his toe peeking out — thus leading founding fathers to name the town Topeka. “This is an opportunity to talk about some of the Native American heritage and folk stories,” Loewenstein said.

The muralist encourages everyone to help him out Sunday. Participants don’t have to be artists, and all materials will be provided.“This is a muralist’s dream come true,” Loewenstein said of the Great Mural Wall of Topeka. “There is so much great collaboration.”

Ann Marie Bush can be reached at (785) 295-1207 or
Follow Ann Marie on Twitter @AnnieScribe.

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