KANSAS CITY, MO. — More than 40 artists from around the country are part of a festival that turns the City of Fountains into the City of Street Art.
"I drove out here throughout the night,” said Justin Wagher, an artist from St. Petersburg, Florida, who participated in the SpraySeeMo Mural Festival three years ago. “It was a 19-hour drive and I showed up, and they had a wall for me to paint.”
This week, Wagher is back in Kansas City, one of 45 artists using walls across the city as their canvases.
"I personally like painting with a lot of colors,” Miami artist Jose Esperanza said. “I like pinks. I like yellows. I like oranges. Anytime I can add color, it’s awesome. It's like adding color to this part of the town.”
Esperanza's painting pops near Truman Road and Jackson Avenue. Esperanza, who goes by “Registered Artist,” will do two more murals during the SpraySeeMO Mural Festival.
Graffiti is ingrained in Kansas City’s landscape, and artists agree that graffiti is its own form of art. But many business owners say they would rather see a mural being painted this week next to their building.
"A lot of us have pushed the boundaries of what murals and the art form can be,” said Jason Harrington, founder of SpraySeeMO. “I think that's where we're at in taking over all city blocks and putting up 50 walls now.”
Harrington created the week-long festival to attract the world's top visual artists to his hometown.
"My experience is we can make a real impact with what art does everywhere," Harrington said.
It doesn't go unnoticed.
"We need to do this everywhere. KC needs to be known not only for the fountains but for the artwork," said Lisa Larson, who works in a building where Wagher painted one of his murals.
The festival is a collaboration of artists who are brightening up communities, one wall at a time.
"Not a lot of people know that the festival is going on, but they've appreciated what you're doing for their neighborhood," Esperanza said.
At the conclusion of the event, the festival’s board will choose top three murals and artists to share in prize money totaling $10,000.
For a complete schedule of events, list of mural locations and information about the artists, visit sprayseemo.com.