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Northeast Topeka is getting more colorful, now that a group is covering graffiti with murals.
The Mural Project is a partnership between the Topeka Police Department and Arts Connect to get rid of the city’s graffiti.
With a little paint, some direction and lots of hard work, a wall once covered in offensive symbols is transformed into a work of art.
“If we just repainted the wall white all we’d do is give the graffiti artists a new blank canvas, and they’ll tag it up as fast as we can paint it,” says Lt. Joe Perry with the Topeka Police Department.
It’s a method to stop criminals that provides so much more.
“People that might not talk to each other in other circumstances are getting comfortable with each other,” says Maria Guzman, one of the mural directors who grew up in the Oakland neighborhood.
“On the right side is the Mexican eagle, fighting the serpent, that many people recognize on the Mexican flag,” Guzman describes the mural design, “It’s looking at the sparrow which is one of the many birds in Kansas and the sparrow is actually displaying its influence of all this immigrant and current citizens.”
The other side of the wall will be a train symbolizing the railroad, and a portrait of co-director Jamie Colon’s grandparents.
“My grandfather got up every morning and cleaned the street, if you came to the fiesta, he went and picked up all the paper, and so did everybody else,” Colon says, “So it’s a great to let everybody know that we want to kind of get back to those roots.”
It’s a project organizers want everyone in the capital city to be a part of.
“It’s a thing that you can put your hands on and do,” Perry says, “And when you do something you’re part of it.”
Organizers hope to paint 6-8 of the murals per year with funds from different grants the group has received. They’ll be painting the mural at 1120 N.E. Seward all week and ask any and all Topekans to help.