By Tyler Schneider
In 2019, visual artist Alecks Cruz and his wife, Natalie, and children, Azariah and Amelia, made the move from Chicago to Kansas City.
“We would frequently visit KC from time to time, and I remember attending events like First Fridays, and thinking, ‘man, how cool is this?’ So when we had an opportunity to move out here, we saw it as an adventure,” Cruz said. “Honestly, it felt like a really great opportunity to get connected in another growing, creative community.”
Last week, the Grandview Arts Council revealed Cruz as the winner of the Mural on Main Street project contest following a public round of voting that had taken place at the Harry’s Hay Days Festival, May 6. His concept was selected from five finalists and ten total submissions.
Cruz will work on transferring his winning design to the new City of Grandview License Bureau Building—formerly the Jackson County Advocate offices at 1102 Main St—in the coming weeks with the aid of a $5,000 grant which the city applied for and was granted by ArtsKC.
The timeline for completion is expected to be sometime in late July or early August, and the mural will likely measure up at 57×15 feet. Work will be able to start as soon as city crews finish covering and removing parts of the building designated for the mural “to give Alecks a blank canvas to start from,” Irene Kendrick of the Grandview Arts Council told The Telegraph.
The artist, a South KC resident just off the Grandview border, had found out about the contest in November of last year after somebody had sent him a flyer. By December, his design had been prepared for submission.
Cruz’s art is heavily influenced by his hometown of Chicago, with graffiti and urban art styles in play throughout most of his works. In this mural, he took those styles and weaved them alongside iconic images from Grandview’s history.
“For this particular project I knew that I wanted to reference a lot of historical things that make up Grandview, so I went online and did some digging,” Cruz said. “Truman is obviously a huge figure that [the city] really takes pride in, so I figured the home would be one good part to incorporate into the design. I also learned about the air base and the military families that had moved to Grandview, and looked into some of those historical artifacts like the train car.”
All in all, the end design was produced with the intent of “honoring the past but also maybe creating something that feels fresh and looks forward,” Cruz said.
Once work starts, expect to see Cruz out and working in the evenings and early mornings in order to beat the summer heat. Usually working alone, Cruz will begin the process by applying the base coat and primer layers on the brick wall, followed by an outline, before he starts using spray paints to fill in areas with color.
Cruz earned 196 votes of 491 total votes, with runner-up Kristie Harper at 108. Harper, as well as the three other finalists, Kristy August, Taylar Sanders. Melissa Feris, and Jessica Weiner, will eventually have their art put on display in the License Bureau office and made available for public purchase.