He’d read about the insanely popular angel wing murals that famous street artist Kelsey Montague had painted in places like New York City and Nashville — earning her adoration and Instagram glory from celebrities like Taylor Swift and Vanessa Hudgens.
So when Daron Adelgren was contemplating a new mural for a blank wall at Pumphouse, the Old Town bar at 825 E. Second St. that he manages, he borrowed some inspiration. He commissioned local artist Mike Potts to paint a similar pair of wings on a south-facing wall at the bar, and even though the mural has been complete for less than a week, it’s already becoming one of the most Instagram-able attractions in Wichita.
The mural features a pair of massive wings as tall as the building with a little person-sized gap left blank in between. When a model stands in that gap and has a photo taken, the effect makes it appear that the model is about to take flight.
“I call it an interactive mural,” Adelgren said. “People come and take their picture in front of it, and it’s really cool.”
Interactive murals, which invite humans to become a part of the art, are becoming popular across the country. One of the most famous interactive mural artists is Montague, who became a big deal in 2014 when pop star Taylor Swift posed in front of her New York City wing mural and shared the photo on Instagram.
Montague has now painted murals in cities all over the world, and earlier this year, Swift commissioned her to paint an intricate set of wings in Nashville to tie into the release of her single “Me!” The mural, which was temporary and has since been removed, drew hordes of fans, who stood in line for a chance to pose in front of it.
To pose with the new mural at Pumphouse, people actually have to enter the business and head out to its back patio. But Adelgren said they’re welcome to do so, even if they don’t intend to stay to eat or drink.
“The whole point of the mural is to bring people down there,” Adelgren said. “If they hang out and have a cheeseburger and drink a beer, that’s a bonus.”
Over the weekend, Pumphouse was home to a 30th high school reunion party for the Kapaun Mt. Carmel class of 1989, and Potts was hired to paint a “Class of ’89” banner above the wings. He’s since painted over it, but the addition caused lots of reunion attendees to pose with and post pictures of the mural.
Soon, Adelgren said, they’ll add a sign that says “Pumphouse” to the mural, too. The more would-be angels who pose with and post pictures of the wings, the more publicity the bar will get, he said.
“My job is to try to expose the place to as many people as I possibly can,” he said. “They can come in and take a picture and hang out, and maybe they didn’t even know we were here.”