It’s a totally accurate depiction of Wichita’s founding – James R. Mead crossing the Arkansas River in a bathtub, boldly carrying a Wichita flag against a modern skyline backdrop.
It’s called creative license, say the artists at Wichita’s Brickmob collective, who painted the scene on the west wall of AdvantEdge Quality Cars at Douglas and Cleveland.
Since Friday, local artists have been converging upon the Douglas Design District for Avenue Art Days, a project intended to beautify the district and bolster civic pride, organizers say.
Avenue Art Days is a three-phase project, according to Janelle King, owner of The Workroom and a board member for the Douglas Design District.
In each phase, light poles are being painted the six colors of the district’s logo, and murals are being painted on the sides of businesses that consent to have them.
The murals are temporary – they will be painted over and replaced with new ones every year, King said.
The seven Phase One murals will be officially unveiled on Sunday at a block party with food trucks, sidewalk chalk, inflatables and beer, for the grown-ups.
▪ Phase One covers the area from Washington to Hydraulic, mostly along Douglas. The current Phase One projects are expected to be replaced next fall.
▪ Phase Two covers the area from Hydraulic to Hillside. Those projects will be completed in the spring of 2016.
▪ Phase Three covers the area from Hillside to Oliver. Those projects are scheduled for summer of 2016.
King said the projects will “draw some attention and recognition to our district.”
“One thing to note is these are not commissioned pieces,” she said. “We gave them the parameters ... but outside of that, this was a free rein. This is a true expression of their artwork, rather than us dictating and commissioning a piece.”
Members of the ICT Army of Artists were painting a piece along the wall of a storage facility for Razook’s Furniture, just north of Douglas and Ohio.
The piece, still untitled, is of three birds – a hummingbird, a quetzal and an unidentified brown bird, said Armando Minjarez, leader of the collective.
”We wanted to keep the mural more lighthearted and just focus on color and making the whole area brighter,” Minjarez said.
Less than a block to the west, members of MakeICT were painting their own mural on the wall of Canyon Granite, complete with flowers and a bicycle “sharrow” sign.
It’s called “Sharrowing is Caring.”
“(The projects) are supposed to be pride of the city,” said Jess Bechtelheimer, of MakeICT. “I didn’t want to do the Keeper (of the Plains) – it’s overdone. I didn’t want to do a Shocker – I’m not into sports. I didn’t want to do an airplane. One of the things that is really happening around town right now is that we are becoming more bike friendly, so that’s what I’m proud of.”
King said she already has artists approaching her, asking to get in on Phase Two projects in the spring.
She said she hopes the project will keep the district fresh with new artwork every year, and engage the local art community. She’s working with the city now to be able to paint things like fire hydrants, park benches and trash cans.
“The city has been hugely supportive of what we’re doing,” she said. “We are a design district, so we’re bringing the design element back to it.”
If you go
Avenue Art Days Community Walkabout and Art Reveal
What: Official unveiling of seven murals painted between Washington and Hydraulic, mostly along Douglas. Food trucks will be on scene near the Workroom, at First and Cleveland. After party with yard games and inflatables to be held at Central Standard Brewing, 156 S. Greenwood.
When: Noon to 3 p.m. Sunday
Where: Douglas Design District (Douglas Avenue between Washington and Hydraulic)
For more information, visit http://www.facebook.com/events/425383324327531/.