Skylines Magazine – December 1960
Board Of Education, Kansas City, Missouri
Public Library and Administration Building
12th and Oak
Kansas City Missouri
ARCHITECT: Tanner & Associates
FOR: Installation of Mural Tile Sections At Children’s Library Entrance.
CRAFTSMAN: Walter Goosman
EMPLOYER: Slater Tile & Mantel Company
ARTIST: Arthur M. Kraft
The Artist’s Conception of His Mosaic Design…
“My chief approach was to create a colorful lure that would attract the light hearts of children. After due consideration it became apparent that I had to deal with all the elements in the animal world that children know. I very carefully selected the most obvious animals which would be easily recognizable in an abstract form. This gave me the freedom of mobility to design the shapes that would indicate movement from left to right, which is as you know, a habit developed in children when they learn to read English. It was also necessary to create a rythmatic pattern of verticality to echo the vertical lines in the building itself as well as the Court House building in the background, hence the use of the red and white stripe running throughout the entire mosaic. This circus tent background is relieved with three scallops to add to the movement and put the central figure of the harlequin on the horse in dead center of the design.“
“The two apertures in the tent are an invitation to the child to enter into the fanciful land of an enchanted forest where all things are possible, as they are in the imagination of all children.”
– Arthur M. Kraft
Unfortunately the current condition of the Arthur Kraft mural is not good and treatment is needed. The mural is in dire need of repair due to large vertical cracks and tiles that continue to fall off the mural. Plus it is in need of a good cleaning due to years of water draining down the mural from the roof.
Article from the Kansas City Star – April 8, 1989
Arthur Kraft’s Mural
Right between the kangaroo’s face and the horse’s tail, the mosaic on the outside wall of the Children’s Library is cracked from sidewalk to ceiling. A little farther down the circus scene, another large crack reaches from bottom nearly to the top.
These didn’t happen yesterday. They will get worse. They need to be corrected immediately.
The lively mosaic by the late Arthur M. Kraft once was a thing of beauty. It was something that made children feel at home and gave library patrons pride. The city pointed to it as representative of Kraft’s talent as a “superb colorist.” It is art on Kansas City’s streets. Letting the small chips loosen and fall and the piece of art decay like a discarded political signboard is an insult to Kraft’s memory and to the people of Kansas City.
It’s wasteful. It is also a familiar attitude showing a lack of care about much property in the district. Tight budgets are one excuse. But they’re not always the reason.
It’s reported that a school employee recently joked that the best solution to the mosaic problem is to paint it over. Perhaps it is, if the alternative is to let it crumble and fall in front of everyone.
This is also symbolic of the deferred maintenance the Kansas City School District has practiced on buildings it owns. In recent years, property has been treated like old clunker cars: Nothing is done as long as it runs, no matter how poorly.
The mosaic isn’t the only major item that needs upkeep. The floor in the old Missouri Valley Room is so warped the boards are popping up like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that don’t fit. Apparently a roof leak lets water run under the room or condense so that the lovely hardwood floor is systematically coming apart.
Moreover, the large room, which could be a superb public meeting area, is empty and unused.
It is wrong to let the building continue to run down. Maybe if the district spends a little now, it won’t have to spend a lot in a few years.