A wall of red painted in the shadow of downtown is expected to serve as more than a backdrop for Kansas City Chiefs-inspired selfies, as the world champion football team heads back to the Super Bowl.
“We hope that rallying around the Chiefs becomes a little point of pride for everybody and motivation to get people out of the house,” explained Steve Revare, co-owner of Crossroads-poured Tom’s Town Distilling Co. — now home to the 1,600-square-foot mural, painted by Phil Shafer, better known as Sike Style.
“Sike Style Industries has been working with the Chiefs for almost three years,” explained Shafer, specifically noting a mural he previously painted for the team at Westport Ale House in 2020. “After the success of last season, the Chiefs wanted to give the fans an even bigger, showstopper mural in conjunction with the ‘Run it Back’ playoff campaign.”
Click here to connect with Shafer or his online portfolio.
While the previous mural focused heavily on the Chiefs star quarterback Patrick Mahomes, Shafer’s newest piece — on prominent display as passersby travel north on Main Street — plays up a different set of the team’s heavy hitters.
“There’s Tyreek [Hill] throwing up the deuces as he speeds by and [Travis] Kelce catching some air as he dunks over the end zone goal post,” he said.
“I work directly with the Chiefs marketing team to find the best player poses that will fit the space and make the best photo ops for the fans and tell a story about the players.”
With an artist secured, the team set its sights on finding the ideal visual real estate to house a massive art piece, added Revare.
“It was sort of a perfect storm. We offered a large brick wall and a Kansas City brand name,” he said of the Tom’s Town building.
The piece came together at a rapid pace over a couple weeks at the end of December, Shafer added.
“Painting something 40 feet-by-40 feet — in the winter, with a two-week window [of completion] between Christmas and New Year’s was a bit tricky, but we got lucky with a few nice-weather days,” he recalled, noting he couldn’t have finished the project without out help from fellow artist and teammate, John Raux.
Such collaborative energy supports the overall vibe both Shafer and Revare hope the project brings to Kansas Citians as they look to celebrate another trip to the Super Bowl and begin to reconnect after a year of heavy isolation, they said.
“Kansas City has been amazing to us. Our customers supported us through the pandemic: they bought hand sanitizer from us and they bought our bottled cocktails, then, when it was safe to come back … they did. I really feel like this is a way to just say, ‘Hey, Kansas City, we’re with you and we’re all together,” Revare said.
Click here to take advantage of Tom’s Town curbside menu or for details on indoor drinking and special events.
The mural’s outdoor location gives fans the opportunity to engage in the same hype-building experiences they came to enjoy last season, while maintaining social distancing practices, noted Shafer.
“The Chiefs Kingdom mural does bring Chiefs fans together … there’s plenty of room in the Tom’s Town parking lot to snap a pic — don’t forget to tag @SikesStyle and #RunItBack and #ChiefsKingdom,” he said.
Click here to check out 21+ ways to wear your Kansas City Chiefs pride while shopping local.
In addition to an influx of fans at Tom’s Town (and likes and shares on Shafer’s social media pages), the collaboration has brought new creative energy to the distilling company — set to unveil a line of Chiefs-inspired, bottled cocktails — and further influenced one of Shafer’s long-held, post-painting traditions.
“With most of my public murals, I leave, ‘art cans,’ by the wall for fans to collect,” he explained of the practice that’s become a bit of a thrill for diehard fans of his work.
“I take the digital version of the mural design and wrap my empty spray cans that I used to paint the wall. It’s a good way to upcycle the old spray cans and give them new life as art objects that commemorate the mural.”
Doing so helps Shafer connect his digital brand with Kansas Citians who might have only shown up because of their place in Chiefs Kingdom, he added.
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.