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Mural project hopes to turn problem KCMO alley into destination

Northeast KCMO mural.JPG
Posted at 10:36 AM, Sep 07, 2020

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Fai Beal recently moved to Kansas City, Missouri, and knew she wanted to get involved in the arts community immediately.

Now, the artist known for her work in the fantasy genre is working shoulder to shoulder with other artists creating a mural in the city’s historic northeast neighborhood.

Every year, the Northeast Kansas City Chamber of Commerce commissions a mural project. The goal is to turn a blighted area into a destination.

This year, the chamber chose to paint a mural in the alley behind a convenience store at 4815 Independence Avenue. Records of police incidents from show more than 30 calls to the area in the past 12 months.

“We thought we might bring a little joy and sunshine to the alley,” chamber president Bobbi Baker-Hughes said with a smile.

Beal said she’s already noticing a difference in the alley, even before the project is complete.

“The weeds down the alleyway have just suddenly started disappearing. It’s not just about the mural, it’s about everyone loving their environment again,” she explained.

Beal is working with a group of children from the organization Global FC, which uses soccer and other activities to help refugee children transition to normalcy in their new homes. She said the children are great artists who love to laugh.

“They could say, ‘I have a part of KC. I belong here and this is proof.’ And I want it to be something they’re proud to bring their family and friends to,” Beal said.

The mural will in essence be a combination of five murals. Each with a focus on healthy lifestyles.

Emily Alvarez is painting a mural of children soccer players without uniforms. She wants children to understand materialism is not important.

“Art brings so much value to a community,” Alvarez said. “I think it’s just inspiring. I don’t know a single person who has not smiled when they walked past public art. It’s just a wonderful thing.”

Madi Sanchez agrees. She is painting a section of the mural herself. Her design focuses on healthy habits like yoga, growing your own food and more.

She said she loves using art to make a difference.

“[Transforming] rundown, urban spaces into something new and beautiful and using public artwork in that way is really awesome,” she said.

Once the mural is finished, Baker-Hughes hopes to collect donations of time and money to trim and landscape an empty lot alongside the alley near 4806 East 6th Street. Ultimately, she wants to plant fruit trees there in order to create a pocket park in the once-blighted area.

Anyone interested in helping with the landscaping project can reach the chamber by going online or calling 816-231-3312.