Saturday, October 1, 2016

Large-scale Community History Murals


Panoramic view of a portion of the Spirit of Argentine mural.
Another type of mural found in the Kansas City region is the large-scale community history mural. Due to their scale—they may span an entire city block—they are difficult and expensive to produce. The most expansive of these is the Spirit of Argentine mural. Executed in the summer of 1998 by the Guild of Latino Arts, the mural traces the history of the Argentine district of Kansas City, KS from indigenous peoples to the present. In the process, the mural does not shy away from earlier troubled times: such as wars, destructive floods, and Jim Crow segregation. The idea is to showcase the enduring spirit of the area despite these periods as well as to celebrate the triumphs of the community. The mural can be seen on Metropolitan Avenue, between 30th and 32nd Street.
Panoramic view of a portion of the Spirit of Argentine mural.

The Argentine mural was produced under the direction of Jesus Ortiz and includes the work of muralists: Alicia Gambino, Jose Faus, Martha Vivanco, Virginia Delgado, Tadeo Franco, and Ardis Peterson.

The 18th and Vine mural on the edge of the Kansas City Downtown loop spans a block between Main and Walnut. The mural celebrates the rich history of jazz that once enveloped the area.  Sadly, much of that has given way to more corporate forms of entertainment such as is often formulated in the Power and Light District.
Even more disappointing is that recent development in the Power and Light District has covered up the second portion of that mural which spanned a block to the east (Walnut to Oak). The mural depicted the history of Kansas City Monarch and Negro League baseball in the city. Although visitors can still sample this rich heritage at the Negro League Hall of Fame a few blocks to the east, it's sad to see this landmark get covered by gentrification.

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