"Connections at Corinth" mural by Phil "Sike Style" Shafer
by: Nancy Kalikow Maxwell
When you think of a construction site, images of cranes, debris and scaffolding usually come to mind. But the folks at First Washington Realty (FWR) had something else in mind when they began planning their Corinth Quarter shopping center redevelopment project at 83rd and Mission Rd. Why not create a mural that would both beautify the area and serve as a distraction from the forthcoming construction mess?
To accomplish this goal, they began interviewing a number of artists, then selected Phil “Sike Style” Shafer, for the project. “His vision best aligned with our ethos and the neighborhood,” said Wright Sigmund, Senior Vice President and National Director of Leasing at FWR, whose company hired Shafer to transform the brick walls of the building near the construction project into colorful imagery for the Prairie Village neighborhood.
“They wanted to create a colorful, eye-catching work,” says Shafer, “something that will distract from the renovated building and serve as a secret photo opportunity.” What Shafer ended up creating did not disappoint.
The mural that he created, entitled “Connections at Corinth,” is a vibrant, geometrically-themed set of panels wrapping around the building bookended by Tide Cleaners on one side and Panera Bread on the other. Color was one of Shafer’s most important considerations for the piece. Orange was selected as a “shout-out to the Tide place” and blue as a complementary hue. These “surprising colors” –to use his words-- were intended to grab the attention of people picking up their lunch at Panera Bread or doing their laundry. Shafer also sought to capture the attention of children who frequent the nearby office building that houses Playabilities, a pediatric occupational, physical and speech therapy center, and Village Pediatrics.
Geometric shapes were also chosen for the piece to effectively play off the architecture of the space. As Shafer describes it, “the work has an abstract, constructionist early Twentieth Century European feel to it, if you want to get all art school about it.” Shafer earned the ability to toss about such phrases by attending the Kansas City Art Institute, but his artistic interests pre-date that formal education. “I’ve been an artist since I was four years old,” he explains, when his parents first recognized and began nurturing his talents. Since then, Shafer has been a professional artist for 21 years, serving for 17 years as the graphic designer at the KU Medical Center before retiring from there in 2018.
“I’ve been interested in public art all my life,” says Shafer, who has won art commissions from numerous schools, governments, and commercial establishments. His work has been featured in campaigns with The Royals, The Kansas City Chiefs, and he was showcased as the featured artist for an Oakley activation at Super Bowl LV in Tampa. Shafer looks forward to new projects planned across Kansas for 2021.
But Shafer is not abandoning the completed Corinth Quarter project. Rather, he now wants to hear how his mural has become an interactive photo space. “I’m hoping it has become an Instagrammer’s playground, a backdrop for whatever fun families want to have taking pictures, getting creative with their outfits, or producing dance videos.”
FWR also hopes visitors will engage with the artwork and encourages the community to use the mural as a photo background and tag Corinth Quarter on Instagram and Facebook @corinthquarter.
In this way, Prairie Village residents will be able to continue enjoying the mural, while hopefully ignoring the construction site mess.
For more information about the artist, visit www.sikestyle.com. Follow @sikestyle on Instagram.
If you Instagram this fun new mural, tag @pvartscouncil and @sikestyle, too!!
Read more about public art in Prairie Village here.
“The Fallen Soldier” Sculpture by Richard Rist