Kendall Whittier Walls brings vibrancy, color to neighborhood

The Kendall Whittier neighborhood saw five walls transformed into colorful public murals that promote the neighborhood’s diversity, history and funkiness as part of the Kendall Whittier Walls project.

The program was presented by the Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation with the objective to create vibrant places, attractive destinations and civic pride through public art in Kendall Whittier.

“I love how the Walls turned out,” said Jessica Jackson, director of Kendall Whittier Main Street. “It was a joy to work with the artists, as well as partner Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation, to see these walls transformed and these public spaces created.”

Four artists – hailing from the Tulsa area and neighboring states – painted the five murals during the month of May. Two murals are along 11th Street, two on are Admiral Boulevard and one is on Lewis Avenue.

The following walls and artists were selected:

  • Ziegler Frame and Art, 6 N. Lewis Ave., “Face the Day ” by John Hammer
  • Selfie Wall, 2411 E. Admiral Blvd., “Selfie Wall” by Ghazal Ghazi
  • Route 66 Wall, 1906 E. 11th St., “Sike Style on Route 66” by Phil Shafer, Sike Style
  • Bearden Plumbing, 2424 E. 11th St., “Homage to the Working Class” by Brady Scott
  • San Miguel School, 2444 E. Admiral Blvd., “Buena Ondo (Good Vibes)” by Brady Scott

“Face the Day” is a splash of color on a previously green wall. Featuring four brightly-colored faces with large eyes that artist calls “peculiar portrayals,” the mural is a mere representation of Hammer’s imagination. “There is no meaning behind the figures,” he said.

Visible to pedestrian traffic along Admiral, “Selfie Wall” brings visitors face-to-face with a woman of Hispanic descent in a starry background. It advances the “narratives of diverse communities whose stories and needs have historically been marginalized,” Ghazi said of her work.

“Sike Style on Route 66” is the projects largest wall, displayed prominently on 11th Street with vibrant colors and symbols of the iconic Mother Road. With so many little features, including the Route 66 shield, a map of Oklahoma featuring the Route, arrowheads and even the artist’s name in cactus, this mural is a little different each time it’s viewed.

The other mural on 11th Street is a different take on a throwback to the past. “This concept is a homage to the working laborers that built this country during the Industrial Revolution,” Scott stated. Featuring a plumber in black and white with a red wrench and a flowing American flag pattern behind him, this mural speaks to the business’ 100-year history.

“Buena Onda” is meant to be a dream landscape with southwestern sunsets, blooming roses and praying hand in bright pastel colors and native patterns. “I wanted this mural to speak to the beautiful and mostly Hispanic neighborhood of central Tulsa,” the artist said.

The project began in the fall of 2018 with an all-call to artists to submit their qualifications. The Walls committee narrowed down the artists from 34 to a Top 5.

“Those five artists were given details about each wall, including dimensions, location, budget and any theme we might have been looking for,” Jackson said. “The artists submitted their design ideas, we paid them a small stipend for their time, and then the committee had another tough decision – which amazing designs to choose!”

Artists were notified in April of their commissioned pieces and completed them the following month. Plans for a Kendall Whittier Walls map, potential merchandising and potential tours are in the works between Kendall Whittier Main Street and the Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation.

“We just want to share these beautiful pieces with the rest of Tulsa,” Jackson said. “We encourage everyone to visit them and really look at the intricate details of the designs. They will really blow you away.

And those choose to snap a photo to share on social media should use the hashtag, #KendallWhittierWalls.

Kendall Whittier Main Street is a nonprofit organization that inspires the ongoing revitalization and growth of a historic and cultural neighborhood in Tulsa, striving to transform it back to a thriving, walkable commercial district. Kendall Whittier is a Certified Cultural District.

For more information about the Kendall Whittier Walls or Kendall Whittier Main Street, call Jessica Jackson at 918-633-1934 or email info@visitkendallwhittier.com.