Archive for Wednesday, March 13, 2002

Artists research Kansas murals

March 13, 2002

Two Tonganoxie murals have caught the attention of two artists in Lawrence.

Lora Jost and Dave Loewenstein visited Tonganoxie last Wednesday to view a mural in the Tonganoxie Library and another at Fourth and Bury streets on west side of Ratliff's Drug Store.

The artists researched various murals Wednesday through Friday in northeast Kansas. The two artists have already viewed 250 murals in other parts of Kansas, and like many before, Tonganoxie's work depicts scenes from the mid- to late-1800s.

"It's involved a little detective work in finding who did the murals," Jost said. "Some of the stories are contradicting."

In the Tonganoxie Public Library mural, covered wagons can be seen within the clouds, something Jost said was common in murals they've seen.

Many of the murals were U.S. Works Progress (later Work Projects) Administration projects, and Jost and Loewenstein expected to see more in their northeast Kansas jaunt. Some stops were local with Tonganoxie, Bonner Springs, Leavenworth and Atchison, while others stretched along the Nebraska border, including Marysville and Hanover. The trip then stretched through the Concordia and Salina areas.

The statewide tour is part of the Kansas Mural Project, which funded with grants through the National Endowment for the Arts and the Kansas Arts Commission.

Jost and Loewenstein hope to put the research of historical and contemporary murals into literature. The "Mural Painter's Handbook" would address the implementation of successful community mural projects to provide guidance for mural artists. In a book and/or related pamphlets, "Kansas Murals: A Traveler's Guide," material would document existing murals throughout the state. The guides would be geared toward tours of mural sites and communities. Jost and Loewenstein are also planning a related Web site that will archive Kansas mural art, feature Kansas mural artists and convey technical and organizational guidance for mural making.

The artists have gained support from Storytellers Inc., based in the Kansas City area, KanArts in Lawrence, the Barton County Arts Council in Great Bend, the Pelathe Community Resource Center, also in Lawrence and the Kansas Sampler Foundation based in Inman.

Jost is a native of Newton, while Loewenstein is originally from Chicago.

Loewenstein said the journey through Kansas has been an interesting one.

"It's been fascinating," Loewenstein said. "There's been a variety and depth of things we've seen."

Jost urges anyone with interesting stories or historical background about public murals in their community can contact her at lorajost@hotmail.com or (785) 832-9860.

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