A sprawling mural inside Spark Kansas City offers the new collaborative workspace and its members more than just a few pops of color, said JT Daniels.
“The subjects are all important figures specific to KC’s history, both past and present,” said Daniels, a Kansas City-based illustrator and muralist tasked with helping bring Spark KC’s common area to life with homegrown inspiration. “Spark wanted something fun and fluid, so I created designs around famous figures that were reflective of both their proximity to the Crossroads and P&L, the fluid creative process and how that’s associated with entrepreneurship and networking.”
Among those famed faces gracing the walls: Kansas City rapper Tech N9NE, jazz pianist Mary Lou Williams, Hallmark Cards founder JC Hall, Russell Stover Candies co-founder Clara Stover, aviator Amelia Earhart and Kansas City Southern railroad titan Arthur Stillwell.
“My personal favorite from the project is the Mary Lou Williams wall,” said Daniels, whose distinctive murals can be seen across the metro — from downtown Overland Park to Bridge Space in Lee’s Summit to Plexpod locations in Lenexa and River Market. “It’s graceful. I love the flow and I feel that the colors and design work graciously and congruently with the space and with her portrait.”
Click here to explore JT Daniels’ public art and original pieces.
Set for a COVID-restricted grand opening later this month, Spark KC offers 15,000 square feet of coworking, private offices and event space near the heart of the Power & Light District in the Two Light luxury apartment building. Members began moving in last month.
Click here to learn more about Spark Kansas City’s new community downtown.
Art from three muralists — as well as decor showcasing rapper Tech N9NE and KCK-born singer-songwriter and actress Janelle Monáe — bring the culture of Kansas City to the spotlight, said Kyla Bradley, but Daniels’ work truly takes center stage.
“It wraps a whole wall and then moves across a section of the space, even extending upstairs,” said Bradley, community manager for Spark KC. “Then you have that impact of color as you step off the elevator. It’s really amazing.”
Infusing Kansas City into the design was top-of-mind for the Spark team, she said.
“Kansas City loves local, and we want to bring some of those elements into this space so that you really get that feeling when you’re here,” Bradley said, noting Baltimore-based Rebecca Jones of RD Jones + Associates led design for the space and personally tapped Daniels for the job.
“We gave a little direction, but this is all him,” she added.
Daniels and his friend, John Raux, worked 16- to 20-hour days for the majority of the project, which took about a week, he said.
The result? A centerpiece for Spark KC that’s as memorable as it is meaningful — and another lure to help bring people into the new space, Bradley said.
“We really want people to step inside and see what we’ve created here in downtown. Because it’s been long-awaited, the built-up excitement is really high for all of us,” she said, noting the Spark KC team — which also includes Ally Garton, first impressions coordinator — is getting ready for COVID-compliant happy hours, as well as offering tours and day passes for curious coworkers.
Daniels’ mural will overlook Spark KC’s first public gatherings when it begins offering small group events — no more than 30 people — socially distanced throughout the space, said Bradley
“It’ll be our first trial run for events — and we want to offer a variety of events, especially for our members, to give them something interesting to do; a happy hour once a week at least; different activities that really fit the spirit of the space,” she said.
Click here to read more about Spark Kansas City and its amenities.
Spark KC is the second collaborative community for Spark Coworking, which launched its inaugural location, Spark Baltimore, in the heart of downtown Baltimore, Maryland, in 2016.
“Our vision for Spark Coworking is to provide the local entrepreneurial community in underrepresented cities an affordable, appealing, flexible way to locate and grow their businesses,” said Shervonne Cherry, director of Community & Partnerships for Spark Coworking. “We are excited to open Spark KC in the dynamic downtown Power & Light District neighborhood, an ideal environment for our members’ businesses to succeed and thrive. Spark will become a catalyst for advancing Kansas City’s thriving entrepreneur ecosystem through creative space and community.”