Help select Lenexa’s new mural in Old Town

Help select Lenexa’s new mural in Old Town
Posted on 11/08/2023
Rendering of mural wrapping around Lenexa Community Center renovated building

When the renovated Lenexa Community Center opens next year, a 900-square-foot mural will wrap around the southwest corner of the building. Two designs by local artists are under consideration. 

Residents have until Jan. 7, 2024, to vote for the mural concept they think best complements the space and represents Lenexa.

Vote for mural design



Mural Concept A: Our Place in Time

mural design for "Our Place in Time"

Artist inspiration

When asking anyone who loves a place what exactly it is that makes that particular place — and space —so special to them, they often struggle to answer.

They may say something like, “Well I grew up here” or “My friends and family are here,” or “It’s just a really good place to live.” While those responses are all true, they speak to the difficulty of expressing what exactly it is that ties us to a particular place, what it is that creates that sense of identity, attachment and belonging to the buildings, the street signs, the high school sports teams, the neighbors — even the local politics. With a sense of place, even the most mundane structures become rich with meaning and memory. The street where you played with your friends. Awkward first dates in the bookstore at the local strip mall. Baking with your grandmother, learning to fish with your uncles, going for walks in the park, watching the leaves change, then fall, then blossom again in the spring. Celebrating the victory of your favorite sports team at the neighborhood bar. Sunsets, backyard barbecues, hikes around the lake, eating ice cream on a summer day, all things that could happen anywhere — but they happened here, in this place, with these people. And that’s what makes them so special. That’s what makes here so special.

“Of all places, why here?” does not — and cannot —have a simple answer. A place is made by irreplaceable intersections of time and space, by the way geography aligns with human history and experience, by the ceaseless back and forth of the way we change our environment, and the way it changes us.

Every place has a story as unique, multifaceted and complex as that of its individual inhabitants. Our goal with this mural is to tell a piece of Lenexa’s story, to try to answer the question “Why here?” from the perspective of Lenexa’s past, present and future. Timeless emblems of the natural environment of Kansas — such as wildflowers, the buffalo and blue heron — provide the backdrop for the story of the city and its inhabitants. The train is represented as a vehicle of change, transition and movement, carrying us from the past to the future. The mural features historical landmarks from Lenexa alongside the city’s namesake, Na-Nex-Se, a Shawnee farmer, who represents the city’s values of strength, resourcefulness and perseverance. The butterflies celebrate the impact of European migration to the area, and the many ways Swiss, Belgian, German heritage continue to influence the culture and values of the community. Lenexa’s rich history of agriculture and farming is honored as the foundation for its development. As the design moves into Lenexa’s future, this legacy is shown as urban agriculture infused into modern living. New memories are made as a father and daughter celebrating a quinceañeara dance through the city, and the image closes with a grandfather reading to his grandchild, reminding us of the ongoing importance of shaping the future by sharing, preserving, and celebrating our unique history through intergenerational connections. Each one of us carries the history of all the places we have loved and lived in. Even if we can’t express it, we know on a cellular level “why here.”

"Our Place in Time" hopes to provide a visual tribute to the unique story, history, and meaning of the place called Lenexa — one its community can take pride in where the past can be commemorated and new memories can be made. And when words fail to describe why this city is so special — why it means so much — we hope this mural can be used as a starting place, a reference point for celebration.

Mural Concept B: Meet Me in Lenexa

mural design for "Meet Me in Lenexa"

Artist inspiration

My mural concept “Meet Me in Lenexa” pays homage to the cultured past, thriving present, and bright future of Lenexa with a whimsical spin. Passing through relevant architecture from each period, a single continuous road takes the viewer through a visual timeline of Lenexa’s history from before the city’s inception all the way to its booming present-day infrastructure. Chronologically beginning on the north wall (Wall C) the design initially calls attention to the simple beauty of the untouched Kansas landscape prior to any occupancy. As the design makes its way around the northwest corner onto the west wall (Wall B), a dirt road takes form and drives the eye past a settlement of wigwams, paying tribute to the Shawnee tribe who were the first inhabitants of the territory. The road then transitions into a railroad track, calling attention to the purchase of portions of the land from the Shawnee tribe in order to build a railroad depot for the Missouri River, Fort Scott and Gulf Railroad. The railroad tracks then transition back into a dirt road that leads the eye past the Old Town post office and, consequently, the skyline of Lenexa’s original Old Town infrastructure that laid the foundation for everything to come.

The road then tails into an abstract explosion of color on the southwest corner and converges with a modern road that trails in from the south wall (Wall A). As the viewer continues on to the south wall (Wall A), the road passes through an assortment of key landmarks within the modern-day infrastructure of the Lenexa community. Starting with the current Old Town Lenexa skyline, the road meanders past the site of the regional Kiewit headquarters, the Fire Stables, the Thompson Barn, a few quaint rural Kansas landscapes, and finally ends at a skyline of the new Lenexa downtown hub, which highlights a number of the iconic buildings from the city’s Vision 2020 initiative. At this point, the viewer will notice that the direction of the timeline is interchangeable with the southwest corner being the focal point wherein the past, present and future of Lenexa meet with radiance. Upon further inspection, the viewer will also notice that the entire road depicted on the west wall (Wall B) spells out the word Lenexa in cursive to allow for the city’s name to be incorporated into the design without initiating a stark contrast between the written text and the flowing visual language of the rest of the mural.

See mural designs in person

Want a closer look? You can view small scale-designs of the murals at the following locations on the dates below:

  • Nov. 8–26, 2023: Lenexa City Hall
  • Nov. 28–Dec. 17, 2023: Lenexa Community Center
  • Dec. 19, 2023–Jan. 7, 2023: Lenexa Rec Center

Project background

When Lenexa decided to invest more than $11 million into the Old Town Lenexa campus that is home to the Lenexa Community Center and Senior Center, they knew public art would be a key part of the project. In keeping with Vision 2040 and the New Look at Old Town Study, a mural was added to the project to bring vibrancy to the space and enhance civic pride and community identity. 

Renovations are expected to begin in early 2024, with the mural installed by the end of 2024. 

Learn more about the improvements

Updated Nov. 8, 2023
Published Oct. 27, 2023