Faces and places in North Wichita we’ve known for years and maybe not fully appreciated will be placed center stage in a new exhibit, “The Color Line,” running Jan. 25-May 18 at The Kansas African American Museum, part of the local Horizontes Project.
The free opening reception is 6-8 p.m. Jan. 25 at TKAAM, 601 N. Water St. in Wichita, and is part of the city’s Final Friday art gallery crawl.
The fabric of the African American and Hispanic communities that have grown along the industrial area in the North End and Northeast Wichita neighborhoods will be celebrated in photo portraits, audio and video interviews, local cultural and historical data, and items from the recent mural projects now decorating the area.
“The Color Line” is the latest part of the “Horizontes” project, a community revitalization effort spearheaded by Wichita-based artist Armando Minjarez, for which he received a $100,000 grant from the Knight Foundation, the charitable arm of a family whose company once owned The Wichita Eagle newspaper.
With grain elevators, processing plants, oil refineries, scrap yards and railroad traffic dominating the neighborhoods, many Wichitans considered the area an eyesore. The area and the people who live there have been neglected by city leaders for decades – yet the people have created a rich social heritage, event organizers say.
Minjarez was once driving through there and saw some girls playing, with one of the drab-looking concrete grain elevator dominating the background.
“What would it look like if they could see a beautiful mural every day instead of a gray wall?” Minjarez said in a Wichita Eagle interview. “Right then is when I had the idea, what does your horizon look like?”
With the Knight Foundation grant, Minjarez organized a team to gather info from the people in the neighborhoods and what they’d like to see in their murals. He held community workshops, organized artists from here and abroad, and encouraged volunteers to help paint.
The results have beautified buildings and walls in the area and united the North End and Northeast communities that have long been divided by the I-35 highway.
Now, one of the grain elevators that dominates the horizon – the Beachner complex near 21st Street and Mosley – has had its drabness replaced by one of the largest murals in North America, created by Colombian street artist GLeo.
In addition to GLeo, artists in “The Color Line” exhibit also include Ashwin G Raj, Alexis Rivierre, Xavier Raul and Juan Carlos Garcia.