New Mural at Spiva Center for the Arts by TANK: Public Art

New Mural at Spiva Center for the Arts by TANK: Public Art


New Mural at Spiva Center for the Arts by TANK: Public Art

TANK: Public Art (a.k.a. The TANK) is a collaborative public arts group aimed at keeping public art in the community’s consciousness as a necessary and essential facet of culture in Joplin, MO. After populating Wildcat Glades Conservation & Audubon Center with wildlife sculptures earlier this year, they have struck again, this time in downtown Joplin on the side of Spiva Center for the Arts at 3rd and Wall.

The latest work is a three-paneled geometric design covering what was once a plain, white wall on the west side of the Spiva building.”We’re thrilled. It’s amazing how much energy public art can bring to a building,” said Spiva Executive Director Jo Mueller. We’re so pleased The TANK approached Spiva! Seeing their work here is another testament to the difference public art can make.”

The group, which is independent from Spiva, selected the building because it had a long expanse of unmarked wall space on a highly traveled road, South Wall Avenue. The wall made for a good public art canvas. A black and white, geometrically-based design was selected as an alternative to other Joplin murals that are pictorial in nature.

The mural at Spiva is the first of three geometrically inspired murals planned for downtown structures. Others are intended for walls at 7th & Wall Avenue, and between 6th & 7th on Virginia Avenue. Weather permitting, the group hopes to finish them this year.

The TANK formed out of the community-based mural project, The Butterfly Effect: Dreams Take Flight, at 15th and Main Streets. Several TANK members were among local design team volunteers who assisted Dave Loewenstein, a Lawrence, Kan., muralist who was commissioned by the JACC Cultural Affairs Committee to plan and paint that mural. A handful of the design volunteers decided to continue creating public art once they finished the mural. They formed TANK: Public Art, basing the name on the idea of a public art think tank.

The group’s first project, completed at the same time as the 15th Street mural, consisted of a couple mosaic pieces, Signs of Hope, at 22th Street and Pearl Avenue, near the former site of South Middle School. One piece features a compass design on a tree stump, one of the many trees destroyed in the tornado. The other features a sun, moon, and regrowth design on a set of free standing concrete steps, remnants of a damaged home at that location.

The group gained notice with its next project, The Spirit Tree, which was painted as part of the first anniversary observance of the 2011 tornado. The group selected that particular tree as a symbol of community strength. While it was stripped bare, the tree withstood the tornado as it barreled down 20th Street, leveling the adjacent Dillon’s grocery store. Now, The Spirit Tree is recognized as a landmark in Joplin’s tornado recovery.

Aside from tornado related art work, The TANK has provided art installations at Instant Karma (collaborative Joplin Nouveau paintings) and chicken-wire, three-dimensional wildlife sculptures at Wildcat Glades Conservation and Audubon Center.

Members of The TANK include Tom Brown, Marta Churchwell, Shaun Conroy, Cleo Copeland, Emily Frankoski, Taylor Kubicek, Rebecca Perry, and Oliver Zerkel.

For more information, contact Emily Frankoski at or call (417) 529-2925. If attached photos are used, please give photo credit to Emily Frankoski (additional photos available upon request).

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