Touchdown Kansas City!

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Local artists score a victory in talent, creativity and passion with their Kansas City Chiefs artwork.

Story by Ann Butenas

It has been said in every work of art the artist is himself/herself present. Six local artists show us not only their talent for the brush and canvas but also how they have fun making things, expressing emotion and giving others the power to interpret what they see.

Each of these local artists offer somewhat of a sanctuary of hope, beauty, fun, excitement, and inspiration at a time in our history when chaos tends to paint a different picture. Through their creative expressions, these artists have dipped their brushes (or used their digital mediums) into something unique to create a level of happiness we all crave as we still celebrate our Super Bowl LIV Champions, the Kansas City Chiefs.



GARY WILKS

Creativity has always been in Wilks’ blood. A lifelong Kansas Citian and current resident of Lee’s Summit, Wilks perfected his skills under the tutelage of some amazing artists and craftsmen throughout his life. Throughout his career, Wilks has created an impressive portfolio of murals, sculptures and portraits. And if you have ever been to the T-Mobile Center (aka the Sprint Center), nearly 300 of his works are on display throughout the arena. He has created portraits of various musical artists who have performed there, all of which have been signed by the entertainers and then hung for posterity.

When Wilks retired a few years ago, he decided to focus on painting what he liked, which involves a variety of commission work for clients. He also enjoys painting pictures of the Kansas City Chiefs, with a recent original of Patrick Mahomes, along with 20 signed, limited edition print copies, auctioned off for $30,000 to benefit a cancer foundation. Wilks also completed a painting of former Chiefs quarterback Len Dawson and current quarterback Mahomes in celebration of their respective 1969 season and 2019 seaon Super Bowl victories.

“I work all in acrylics now and paint each one as if it’s my last one,” Wilks noted.

You can find Wilks’ art at Leawood Fine Art; at 2010 Gallery in Prairie Village, Kansas; and online at wilksportraits.com.



GARY WALKER

As a teenager, Walker had obvious talent as an artist. Between the ages of 15 and 51, however, that talent was in hibernation until this veteran’s struggle with PTS decades later forced him to find a creative outlet to redirect his damaging thoughts and translate them into literal works of art. Now a form of therapy, painting allowed him to go from an angry space to a place of peace.

Walker, whose primary medium is acrylic on canvas, has spent the past four years reacquainting himself with his artistic talent. Many of his creations are donated to auctions that benefit myriad charitable causes. Among his artistic accomplishments include several pieces that celebrate the Kansas City Chiefs and their victorious Super Bowl win.

You can find Walker’s art on Facebook @ The King of Green Art Studio.



CHRIS RAU

A specialist in hand-drawn, digitally-colored, comic-style artwork, Rau is a high school art teacher and has three decades of experience as a traditional style penciler. An artist since his preschool days, Rau has always had a penchant for comic book art. As a child, he would create “little monsters,” as he affectionally described his works, and by the time he was a student at Winnetonka High School, he was recognized as Best Artist. In recent years, he has turned his attention towards becoming a comic book artist and is gaining traction within the comic book scene.

A massive Kansas City sports fan, he has translated his passion for comic-book-style presentation into his Kansas City Chiefs art, giving the professional athletes a super hero persona. 

You can find Rau’s art at chrisrauart.etsy.com.



LIZ VARGAS

An engineer by trade, Liz Vargas discovered a passion and a talent for art as a child and renewed that interest several years ago. Self-taught, her preferred medium consists of ink and watercolors. With designs that appeal to a wide range of art enthusiasts, Vargas’ expressions come from a platform of surveying and inspecting.

“I like to paint from observation, so I will usually take a sketchbook, pen and watercolors to a site and create from there,” she explained.

When this Chiefs fan created the Kansas City Chiefs Champions football parade: Sea of Red Championship at Union Station, freezing temperatures precluded her from painting on site, so she initiated the painting from her iPad first. 

You can find Vargas’ art on etsy.com at LizVargasArt.



MICHAEL B. SAVAGE

As an artist, Savage’s goal is to create something that is strong and engaging, yet he approaches his compositions with one philosophy: art is simple – you either like it or you don’t. His works of art serve as an extension of the world around him, and he has spent the last two decades capturing life’s moments with what he describes as “spontaneous and bold brushstrokes.”

A long-time fan of the Chiefs, Savage has created a captivating collection of artwork that has gone from the easel to the hearts of fans, showcasing the stadium, our favorite quarterback Mahomes, tailgating activities, and winning plays. His love of bold, bright and daring colors using acrylics inspires happiness, giving others a glimpse into how he sees the world.

Mike works out of his home studio in Westwood, Kansas and displays his works online at sav-art.com.



WILLIAM ROSE

“I am self-taught and didn’t know I could draw until I was in my mid-40s,” confessed Rose, who has a business degree and his MBA. “It was a surprise thing for me.”

A figurative artist who works mostly in oil and some charcoal, Rose has gained national attention from corporate, institutions and private collectors across the country. Among his clients and collectors are the Kansas City Royals, Kansas State University, Texas A&M, the Stowers Institute, Clint Eastwood and more.

In 2016, Rose was commissioned to paint the mural for the main lobby of Kauffman Stadium commemorating the 2015 World Series Championship. Rose has also created paintings for numerous other sports organizations.

Described as an artist who can capture every range of emotion, Rose evidences such conviction with his Kansas City Chiefs paintings. His “Bringing it Home” oil painting depicting the Super Bowl LIV championship celebration with the Kansas City skyline in the background is on display at the Leopold Gallery in Brookside. His Patrick Mahomes MVP, created in oil and 24k gold, hangs in a private collection, as does “Eyes of a Champion.”

You can find Rose’s art at the Leopold Art Gallery in Brookside; Leawood Fine Art in Leawood, at the Eva Reynolds Fine Art Gallery in Prairiefire in Overland Park; and online at williamroseart.com.

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