Murals speak to us. They can challenge us, calm us, even anger us. They can prod us to think, feel, be curious. They can answer long-standing questions and provoke new ones. Murals bridge the past to the present while offering a window to the future. Most importantly, perhaps, may be their connection to a community’s history and values.
For those seeking a cultural road trip this fall, Kansas community murals will transport you to another place, both figuratively and literally.
Kansas Country Living magazine offers the following communities as suggested starting places for a public art journey across Kansas, chosen for their concentration of murals to make a day or afternoon of your visit. For a comprehensive list of Kansas community murals, visit www.travelks.com/things-to-do/arts-and-entertainment/murals.
Clay Center Rotary President Brett Hubka selected the goal of installing one mural as his chosen community project during his tenure. More than 25 murals later, the Mural Movement continues with plans for future murals.
An interactive map is available to make your way around the town at www.claycokansas.com/murals. Here is a sampling of what you will see:
- “Classics” represents the colorful years of Route 66 and the classic old filling stations that once lined the highways. Artist: Tracy Lebo is a long-time Clay Countian.
- “Bucolic America” is a vibrant scene characteristic of rural Clay County. Multi-generational farms and agricultural products are sources of pride for the region. More than 80 feet high, this massive mural is the largest in Clay Center. Artists: Whitney Kerr III, Mike Trujilo, Ryan Estel, Jeremy Bena Elliott McAnany.
- “The Center of It All” This piece of art located in the middle of Clay Center depicts the town’s geography, people and energy — the fabric of community. Artists: Jessica Kerr and Taylor Carr.
- “Clay Center Veterans Mural” is a stirring depiction of an iconic World War II photograph. Completing the patriotic theme, a pole extending above the mural presents the American flag and brings a unique movement to the artwork. Artists: Whitney Kerr III, Elliott McAnany and Chase Hunter.
- “Coca-Cola” was hand painted by a 1920s artist (unknown) from Kansas City, Missouri. It is one of thousands commissioned by Coca-Cola, whose outdoor advertising campaign saturated rural America at that time. Restored by Leland “Slim” Graves.
- “Farm to Table.” This mural exemplifies rural Kansas and nature — clear blue sky, flyover country, tall grass, bountiful harvests, brewing storms, post and wire fencing, grazing animals and open roads. Artists: Whitney Kerr III, Mike Trujilo, Ryan Estel and Jeremy Bena.
- “God Bless America” – The national emblem of the United States since 1787, the bald eagle is prominently featured in this patriotic-themed mural. Artists: Whitney Kerr III, Mike Trujillo and Ryan Estel.
- “Greetings From” – Rural Clay County life is celebrated in this postcard-style mural. Several Clay Center hidden gems can also be found in this mural by those familiar with the area. Artists: Whitney Kerr III and Elliott McAnany.
- “K-15” represents iconic signage marking Kansas Highway 15, which serves Clay Center, and comprises original Kansas license plates from the 50s, 60s and later. Artist: William Counter.
- “Kansas Stamp” features bending wheat fields and a covered wagon train. This postage stamp was issued to mark the 100-year anniversary of the Kansas Territory. Artist: William Counter.
- “Old Glory” – Since the struggle of the Revolutionary War, the U.S. flag has symbolized unity, representing the town’s patriotism.
Artist: Ryan Estel.
- “Rescued” depicts five of the 1000-plus dogs that have been through CCARE Animal Shelter’s doors since opening in 2016.
Artists: Whitney Kerr III, Ryan Estel and Jeremy Bena.
- “Heroes Live Here” honors hardworking community members who build, grow, educate and protect the Clay Center community. The mural includes equipment and tools of various departments that serve the area. Artists: Whitney Kerr III, Ryan Estel, Mike Trujilo and Jeremy Bena.
The community’s most recently commissioned mural will be completed by Oct. 6 for an unveiling during the Gordon Parks Celebration that day at 4 p.m. The mural, located across from the Fort Scott National Historic Site near Skubitz Plaza, will be a celebration of the 1st Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry.
“Of course, the 1st Kansas holds some incredible history,” said W. Jackson Tough, Public Relations and Tourism Director for the City of Fort Scott. “The 1st Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry was mustered into service on the parade ground of Fort Scott in June 1862, the first black men in the Union Army, fighting for their freedom and the freedom of all African Americans.”
Fort Scott is home to a variety of outdoor murals, some of which have been around since the 1920s and 1930s according to Tough. “Many of our murals have been a part of a recent focus on beautifying the community through artistic expressions,” Tough said.
Fort Scott murals have been painted by school children and professional artists alike.
- “The Bison” is fun for many who love taking selfies. Artists: Cally Bailey, Emily Bailey and Tanner Streeter.
- “Meadowlark” – The Kansas state bird.
- “Fort Cannon Fire” – Honors the Fort Scott National Historic Site.
- “Troop Salute” – A tribute to those currently serving in the United States military.
Fort Scott native “Gordon Parks” was an amazing photographer, filmmaker, writer and composer whose achievements were many, but none compared to his efforts to stand against injustice, poverty and racism.
- “Statue of Liberty”
- “Eagle” – The symbol of American pride and patriotism.
- “Rosie the Riveter” – Stands as an iconic female factory worker during the World War II era. Artist: Stephen Toal.
- “Angel wings”
- “Flower-scape” Artist: Stephen Toal.
- “Undersea Adventure” takes visitors on a journey with detailed animals of the ocean. Artist: Stephen Toal.
- “Greetings from Fort Scott” is another visitor favorite for taking photos in front of. Artists: Danyell Miles, Flo Tanner, Larry Amer, Berry Jones, Suzette Torres, Tegan Milburn, Macyn Farmer, Tabi Schilling, Kerigan Reynolds, Jessi Cox and Jessee Cox.
- “Sunflowers” (shown top of Page 3) are always in style, especially in Kansas.
Artists: Danielle Miles and Flo.
- “Old Fort” is a salute to the Fort Scott National Historic Site. Artists: Bre Eden, Cally Bailey, Emily Bailey and Katie Hueston.
- “The Future Belongs to Those Who Read” (literary mural) Artists: Students of Winfield Scott, Fort Scott Middle School, and Fort Scott High School.
- “Border Gateways” Treasury Section of Fine Arts oil-on-canvas mural painted in 1937. The work shows settlers traveling into the Kansas Territory in 1854. The mural is in the former Fort Scott federal courthouse (above the U.S. Post Office, second floor). Artist: Oscar E. Berninghaus.
- “Lady Justice” is depicted as a blindfolded woman with sword and scales of balance in the Main Courtroom. Artist: David H. Overmyer.
A strikingly colorful butterfly mural is a new addition to WaKeeney painted this past June by Mindy Allen of Mindy’s Murals. It joins five other murals throughout the town:
“Cedar Bluff” can be seen at The Cedar Bluff State Park. Artist: Amber MCLaughlin.
“Christmas Tree” is located at the town’s North Pole and allows visitors to take a photo with the Christmas Tree year-round.
“Barn” can be found at Shiloh Winery and Vineyard. Artist: Laurie Albin.
“Local,” sponsored by the WaKeeney Chamber of Commerce and painted by local volunteers, shows community pride with a heart located on the map for WaKeeney.
Two additional murals will soon be installed. Visit www.wakeeney.org/murals.
More than a dozen murals are located throughout Winfield, both indoors and outdoors including the large outdoor mural, “Wrap Around Winfield.”
Two new murals were recently completed in honor of Winfield’s Sesquicentennial:
- “Winfield’s history” was commissioned by the Winfield Arts and Humanities Council. Artists: Alex and Andrea Polzin.
- “The Bison” was commissioned by the Winfield Area Chamber of Commerce and funded through local sponsorships for Winfield’s 150 celebration, as well as through an Office of Rural Prosperity (ORP) grant. Artist: Lindsey Kernodle.
“‘The Bison’” is the first in a series of five murals that will be completed in Winfield’s downtown with funding from the 150 celebration and the ORP grant,” said Sarah Werner, CEO, Winfield Area Chamber of Commerce.
Self-directed driving tour brochures are available at the Winfield Area Chamber of Commerce.