A thousand paws of art in Tonganoxie
Monica Gee has a slew of regular furry clients at Wizard of Paws, her downtown Tonganoxie pet grooming business.
Now she gets to see about 250 of them every time she gets to work.
Tonganoxie artist Elizabeth Daniel painted a mural this past weekend near the front entrance. The mural celebrates many of Wizard of Paws’ regular customers, along with other dogs and cats. Daniel also took to Facebook asking for photos of dogs and cats for the mural’s consideration. Some are real, some imagined, but all now have provided some pizzaz to the south interior wall of the local business. A few even give a posthumous nod to beloved dogs that have gone to heaven, complete with halos.
“The super fun part is involving the community,” Daniel said. “Getting people who love art involved, people who may not think even think about art often or at all, excited enough to submit their personal photos to become part of something I get the pleasure of creating.”
The work is Daniel’s second mural at a Tonganoxie, both in the 600 block of Fourth Street. The other is a few doors down on the west wall inside Ryan’s Public House. Daniel also reached out to the community on social media for photos, that time seeking portraits that captured the essence of Tonganoxie.
After seeing Daniel’s work there, Gee asked about a mural being done inside her shop as well.
The online responses flooded Daniel’s thread with many fur baby photos.
“They feel it’s part of them since it’s their animal,” Daniel said. “I feel it’s a part of me because it’s my hand controlling the brush. Everyone is happy, everyone is excited to see it come together. It’s the best feeling in the world. It’s why I do what I do. And why I love it.”
Gee said the artist and the mural were the right fit for her business.
“The mural is a combination of the ideas that I had floating in my head,” Gee said. “Elizabeth is an artistic genius that brought it to life. When I first decided to do a mural I saw a post about characture cats and ideas started going from there.
“Elizabeth and I spoke because I knew her energy and style would fit my idea. She loves interactive ideas and including client dogs was so fun when she put it out on Facebook it was a treasure trove of cuteness.”
Visitors can take a closer look at the mural during an open house 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Aug. 18 at Wizard of Paws, 612 E. Fourth St.
“I am in love with the finished mural and what it represents to me,” she said.
Murals of Tonganoxie
The latest mural adds to a growing number of such pieces in Tonganoxie, many of which are in the downtown area:
• A Steve Murillo mural can be seen on the on the west exterior wall of the historic Ratliff Drugstore at Fourth and Bury streets. The mural, originally created in 1980, depicts 1800s downtown Tonganoxie.
• Kelly Poling created two murals in the downtown pocket park at Fourth and Delaware streets, just a block east of the Young creation in downtown Tonganoxie.
The murals were Poling’s first in Kansas, and now have the distinction of being his only works in the Sunflower State. Poling, who lived in Chillicothe, Mo., created numerous murals throughout his city of residence and beyond. He created the Tonganoxie works in 2016. Poling died this past December.
This past Thursday, Missouri Main Street Connection, Inc., posthumously presented him with the Volunteer of the Year Award for his efforts to revitalize downtown Chillicothe through his many murals.
• A mural in the Tonganoxie Public Library community room depicts life in the mid- to late-1800s.
• Though it’s not easy to view because it’s on a wall beneath the Tonganoxie High gymnasium’s east stands, THS graduate Thomas Gilner’s mural depicts various athletes in THS garb.
• Additional murals students have created through the years can be seen in THS hallways.
More works elsewhere
Daniel has created 15 murals in all so far. Originally from Jefferson County, she also has created a mural at a health clinic in Meriden, at B-you-tiful hair salon in Leavenworth and inside various private residences.
Her Atomic Kansas art show currently is at the Century II Arts and Convention Center and will be in various places into 2020, including Salina Public Library’s Gallery 708.
Daniel also teaches art classes at the Tonganoxie, Basehor and Lansing libraries and soon will be starting up free youth art classes on Wednesdays throughout the school year at Tonganoxie Public Library. Those classes are for youths up to 18 and are available on Wednesdays that Tonganoxie schools are in session.
She also offers Adult Night Out the second Thursday of each month. Cost is $20 per person, which includes supplies.