Art Scene Burgeoning Under Passionate Leadership
Posted on May 30, 2023 by Visit Emporia
Everybody wants to be outside in the springtime–and what better way to do that than to enhance your Emporia visit by exploring some public art photo opportunities?
You’ll never be bored when visiting our fair town, with activities from biking and hiking to concerts, unique dining and cultural experiences–and don’t forget the shopping! On top of all that, we are justifiably proud of our Community Arts Alliance–a group of local volunteers who came together to enrich and promote Emporia through the arts.
Visit Emporia created the Community Arts Alliance in 2022, with two projects completed already. The Emporia First Friday community mural project on the Earthly Delights building was truly a group effort.
During the Emporia First Friday September 2022 Art Walk, the quirky little building at 105 E. 12th Ave. became a three-dimensional paint by number project. Local painting company owners designed and led the mural painting plan, even including a special mini-mural for the under-12-year-old crowd who wanted to take part. A steady stream of painters approached, chose an area to paint, picked a cup of correspondingly- numbered paint and a brush, and settled in to work on the project. In the space of just a few hours, the building exterior was transformed into a piece of art. Drive, walk, or roll west on 12th Avenue between Commercial and Market Streets and the whimsical botanical art will bring a smile to your face–and provide plenty of unique photo ops!
Then head south to the heart of La Colonia at Las Casitas Park to experience the vibrant murals created by local artist Deon Morrow on the walls of the stage building, celebrating Emporia’s strong Hispanic heritage. As early as 1907, the Santa Fe Railroad brought in more than 200 workers from Mexico to work the railyards. They lived in little brick houses called Las Casitas, which were owned by the railroad. During the Great Depression, many workers were laid off, forced to look elsewhere for jobs. Many were transported back to Mexico courtesy of the Santa Fe, while others decided to stay here with their families and stick it out, relying on odd jobs and gardening to survive. The railroad company allowed all the unemployed Mexicans to live in Las Casitas rent-free until they went back to work. Families grew and expanded, and, little by little, La Colonia grew and blossomed into today’s strong and thriving Hispanic community. Occasionally you can catch a concert or a lively fiesta on the beautifully painted stage or perhaps you’ll just chill with a picnic.
The Lorenzo Delgado Sports Complex, formerly known as Southwest Santa Fe Park and Lion’s Field Park, is located on the corner of South Avenue and West Street. You might be lucky enough to catch a Latin Legends fast-pitch game, or try a few ollies at the nearby skateboard park. El Marmol, at 713 W. South Ave., features outstanding Latin cuisine for dine-in, take-out, or delivery. Reach them at 620-342-7307. Just across the street is Emporia’s Mexican American Veterans Memorial at 205 S. Lawrence St. and the All Veterans Memorial in Soden’s Grove is close by at 931 S. Commercial St. on the banks of the Cottonwood River.
Visit Emporia and the Community Arts Alliance are funding five new projects this year. “Faces of Emporia” is a community-participation photo wall that will be placed on the south side of the Nick Jacob American Family Insurance Building at 907 Commercial Street in downtown Emporia. Already in progress, is the Hispanic heritage mural being painted by Andy Coffman on the east-facing wall of Taqueria El Marmol at 23 E. Sixth Ave. Barriletes Gigantes is a giant kite project. Kites are being built and will be launched during our town’s second annual Empovía Festival on October 7 at Peter Pan Park, 425 S. Congress St. Stay tuned for the unveiling of the Trolley House Distillery mural featuring local landscapes and history and the Art Walk Entrance for the annual Labor Day weekend Halfway to Everywhere Music and Art Festival.
Emporians are passionate about the things we love, and it shows in our local art scene. From painted murals and Emporia Main Street’s interactive murals, to sculptures and venues for performing arts, you’ll find a variety of art forms around our beautiful city. Be sure to check our interactive Community Art Map for art opportunities throughout town.
Entering town from the west, you’re greeted by the Prairie Passage Stone Sculpture Garden, at US Highway 50 and Industrial Road. Depicting Emporia’s history, the massive chiseled limestone pylons range in height from 10 to 15 feet and weigh five to nine tons each.
Approaching from the north, you’ll find the National Memorial to Fallen Educators at 18th Avenue and Merchant Street, a permanent tribute to teachers who lost their lives in the line of duty. Visit the historic one-room schoolhouse and the National Teachers Hall of Fame on the Emporia State University campus as well.
While you’re here, we hope you’ll also take time to learn more about our Visit Emporia Pledge, which encourages everyone to be good stewards of our community and environment during your time here with us.
- Stay golden.
- Leave no trace.
- Respect the land and its people.
Find out how YOU can take the Visit Emporia Pledge here.
Visit Emporia welcomes travelers and meeting planners, and serves as the visitor information center for Emporia, Kansas and surrounding area.
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