A massive, five-story mural project launched on the Country Club Plaza in late 2020 will grow even bigger over the next week, painting the potential for more representation in an otherwise traditional — and earth tone — Kansas City shopping district and neighborhood.
“It adds a lot of conversation and excitement — and it shows an opportunity for growth and support for younger generations,” David Block, president of Block and Company Realtors, told Startland News as he stood in front of the Plaza Parkway Medical Building at 4620 Mill Creek Parkway — a long-vacant property represented by the real estate company and the site of significant vandalism during the May 2020 demonstrations that followed the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
When neighborhood complaints about the state of the building started to pour in last summer, Block contacted Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas with a proposal: using art to turn the space into a celebration of family and cultural unity.
“They just wanted all of the graffiti painted over [with] flat earth tones … we wanted to add a lot more meaning to the building,” Block said, adding Lucas approved his request and connected him with Vince Sanders, founder of CBD American Shaman and SprayKC — a Kansas City-based nonprofit that works to organize, create and showcase public art metrowide.
“With both David and Vince sharing the same passion for philanthropy and the arts in Kansas City, it was the perfect collaboration,” Block and Company said in a release, outlining the success of the partnership and the completion of its first phase last fall.
The duo agreed to a second phase, which began Sept. 12 and is expected to see 10 artists from across the country gather on the Plaza to present their takes on the installation’s core themes.
“We believe that the murals that are being painted throughout Kansas City are an expression of the future and continue to add opportunity for all age groups, highlighting their art capabilities — while at the same time, focusing on properties throughout Kansas City that can use this kind of feature,” Block said.
“[We want to] give these artists an opportunity to express themselves, which ordinarily they would not have in this part of town.”
The building, which already showcases work by J.T. Daniels, locally lauded muralist, will display pieces from Kansas City-based art duos Tad and Jessica Carpenter and Isaac Tapia and Rico Alvarez, better known as “IT-RA.”
Additional artists include Thomas “Detour” Evans, Denver, Colorado; Peat “Eyez” Wollaeger, St. Louis, Missouri; Kendall Rose and Anna Charney, Denver, Colorado; Meg Wagler, Springfield, Missouri; and Ally Grim, Denver, Colorado.
Block and Company is no stranger to getting creative with its properties, Block added, noting the 75-year-old company has led similar projects in the past, including a Martin Luther King-inspired piece near 63rd street and Paseo Boulevard.
“We’re looking to make an impact in the marketplace, to show other building owners in the south part of Greater Kansas City or even the north part of Greater Kansas City, that [murals] do not deter leasing opportunities and that they do bring attention to these buildings and [they shouldn’t be] worried about letting someone paint some expression [through] art on their buildings,” he said.
The project is expected to conclude Sept. 26, the final day of the 90th annual Plaza Art Fair — offering festival-goers an opportunity throughout to watch the muralists’ work live.
One of the Midwest’s premier full service real estate organizations, Block & Company boasts transactions extending to 187 cities in 35 states, and manages millions of square feet of retail, restaurant, office, and industrial space.