Pitt State artists contribute to Kansas mural movement   

Murals are popping up all over Kansas and Pittsburg is part of it. So are talented Pittsburg State University students, alumni, and a professor, who have added color to the walls of the campus and the community.  

Looking for a picture-perfect photo op or a reason to get out and take a drive or go on a stroll? These murals are worth a stop. 

Mural Centennial

The largest 

The Centennial Mural, designed by Mark Switlik (BFA ‘79) to celebrate PSU's 100th birthday, was completed in 2004 and can be found in Lindburg Plaza, on the north end of Nation Hall at Pitt State.  

Switlik is known for his big art, and this mural doesn’t disappoint: It’s 43- by 41-feet. 

He painted it using the fresco technique, incorporating pigment with water directly onto the building material, so he expects it to last 50 or 60 years. 

Mural crosswalks

Ones you can walk on 

The only murals in town that are walked on are at the four elementary schools, courtesy of Professor Jamie Oliver and students who assisted him. 

Designed by art majors, the crosswalk murals were funded by SEK Art Fest and installed in 2018 in partnership with the City of Pittsburg and Pittsburg Community Schools. 

"The community needs to see artists in the community, making artwork," Oliver said. "This seemed like a great project to achieve that goal." 

Oliver plans to refresh the ones at Lakeside Elementary and Meadowlark Elementary once street resurfacing is completed by the city later this year; he’s already refreshed the ones at Westside and George Nettels elementaries. 

Mural Jenna

Photo courtesy Sarah Runyon / City of Pittsburg

The most 

If there was an award for the artist who has painted the most murals in Pittsburg, it would go to Jenna Spencer (BFA ‘15, MBA ‘20). 

They. Are. Everywhere. 

“I have painted at 13 different sites, mainly in downtown Pittsburg,” she said.  

The list includes: 

100 Block of West Fifth Street (south side)  
Audacious Boutique, 211 N. Broadway (north side)
Copy Products (south side), 111 S. Broadway  
Frisco Event Center (south side), 210 E. Fourth St. 
First Baptist Church (indoors), 209 W. Seventh St.  
Fun Zone Depot (indoors), 104 N. Locust St. 
Memorial Auditorium (indoors), 503 N. Pine St. 
Mid America Properties (south side), 217 N. Broadway St. 
Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce (west side), corner of Fourth and Pine streets 

She has more planned in other locations. 

Her largest? It’s in Girard, 14 miles away, at Bender on the 7 — and it’s the one that took her the longest. 

“I like to create murals because most of them can be enjoyed by the general public as they pass by,” she said. “And now they are a part of the history of these towns.” 


The newest 

Head to Porter Hall, home to Pitt State’s Department of Art, and you’ll see a mural students just painted on the landing between first floor and second floor. 

It was designed by senior art major Abby McCoy, who is enrolled in Oliver's mural class. At 8 feet by 19 feet, it's being painted by nine students. 

Each student submitted a design to be considered; McCoy’s was chosen as the winner. 

Inspired by the famed abstract artist Piet Mondrian, it uses a definite Pitt State color palette with bold red, gold, and black geometric shapes. 

“I’ve always been intrigued by the process of mural design. It seems like such an impossible mountain to climb — such a large scale,” she said.  

She took the class to learn how. 

“It's a very, very nice exit to my education here. All of these wonderful people, helping me to execute it, and for it to be here for everyone to see. It’s very flattering.” 

Mural downtown

Next up 

Oliver's mural class is working in a Porter Hall studio on panels that will be used to create a 12-foot by 29-foot mural of a tiger. They will install it soon on the south side of the Main Street Axe Company — a relatively new business in downtown Pittsburg at 216 S. Broadway.

It's not far from “Southeast Kansas Love Story Mural,” at 310 N. Broadway, created by another of Oliver's classes. It features a young miner giving flowers to a girl holding a chicken.

 Mural Love Story

Don’t miss 

“Solidarity,” inside Pittsburg Public Library, 308 N. Walnut. Painted by Kansas artist Wayne Wildcat, it is based on an historic photo of the Amazon Army’s march to protest working conditions in Southeast Kansas Mines. 

"The Frisco Depot" at the Pritchett Pavilion restrooms on Second Street between Pine Street and Broadway. Painted by Gary Lofts (BSEd ‘97, MS ‘01), it depicts the old depot that once stood on the site, now part of Immigrant Park. To complete the mural, he spent time researching with archivist Randy Roberts at Pitt State’s Axe Library. 

“Transportation Heritage,” a large work in progress on the north side of Ray’s Auto World, 121 E. Sixth St., along old Jefferson Highway. It depicts vehicles of multiple eras. 

“1957 and 1961 National Football Championship Murals,” inside the Weede Gymnasium at 1801 S. Homer. Painted by famed sports artist Ted Watts (BFA ‘66), they highlight legendary coach Carnie Smith and his Gorillas. 

“Creating Legacy Heroes,” a large mural on the east side of the charity Creating Legacies at 204 W. Fifth St. It features cartoon heroes and villains. 

“Get Busy Livin’ Mural,” a tribute to the Get Busy Livin’ Foundation that honors Pittsburg native Dylan Meier, on the north side of Little Shop of Flowers at 801 N. Broadway. It was painted by Rebecca Lomshek (BSEd ‘94, MS ‘07) and her students. 

“Gorilla in the Jungle," on the north side of Sakera at 1618 S. Broadway. 

A mural on the east side of the old Saunders Cooke building at 105 E Fifth St., built in 1914, highlights the area’s immigrant and railroad heritage.

Learn more:

Pitt State Department of Art