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Two Light Art Evokes Kansas City Cool

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3 minute read

By Kim Mueller

One hundred years after leaving Kansas City, Ernest Hemingway’s spirit returned when Two Light apartments opened its doors earlier this month.

Images of the famous author as well as other celebrated Kansas City residents are immortalized in the tower’s artwork decorating its floors, walls and ceilings.

A mural of Ernest Hemingway, who reported for The Kansas City Star briefly, is in the lobby. (Photo by Kim Mueller)

Upon entering the recently-opened luxury apartments‘ lobby, Hemingway’s mosaic watches from a darkened corner as visitors approach the front desk.

Behind the desk hangs a large abstract mural painted by Kansas City Art Institute student Colin Kettler.

And embedded in the floor in front of the desk is a larger-than-life manhole cover stamped with “Kansas City 2018.”

“Kansas City truly lives at Two Light,” said Marnie Sauls, executive director of Cordish Companies’ residential management.

“Everywhere you look, whether in original pieces by local artists or collaborations with our design partners, a piece of Kansas City history is featured.”

Next week, Mayor Sly James and the Cordish family are scheduled to speak at Two Light’s grand opening at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Two Light’s most prominent artwork can be seen without even entering the building at 1444 Grand Blvd. Outside two major murals pay tribute to the city’s history.

On the building’s north side, a replica of the original Negro Baseball Leagues is displayed, including images of Buck O’Neal, Satchel Paige and Jackie Robinson.

Local artist Alexander Austin painted the new mural, which replaces an original design destroyed when Cordish built its $120 million tower. Pieces of the historical mural still exist hidden inside the complex’s stairwells and parking garage.

The contemporary front desk in the lobby signals visitors what to expect throughout the building. (Photo by Kim Mueller)

“It has become such a part of the skyline that we hated to take it away with the building,” said Jen DeMeyer, Cordish marketing and communications director.

“So we just recreated it on the other side. It’s in a much more prominent position.”

On the south side of the building, another mural commemorates great sporting moments and sport celebrities, including former Kansas City Chief’s quarterback Len Dawson, Sporting Kansas City Captain Matt Besler and NBA veteran Mario Chalmers.

A sculpture in the Two Light elevator lobby.

Inside, near the elevators, stands a black modern sculpture in front of a yellow light wall. And each of the tower’s 24 floors boasts its own portrait unique to Kansas City.

Most of the artwork, however, is found on the eighth floor to compliment the apartment’s amenities. In the demonstration kitchen, massive lights hang over the long preparation island.

In the reading lounge, a replica of the “Kansas City” sheet music written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller stretches from floor to ceiling. The mural was digitally recreated and hand painted by a KC Art Institute student.

Practically every inch of wall space is covered with artwork, including a hallway leading to the restrooms and spa. A painting of an anonymous female jazz player stands frozen with her horn on one wall.

A photo of baseball great Satchel Paige is the hallway to the fitness club. (Photo by Kim Mueller)

Around the corner, a photograph shows Kansas City Athletics star Satchel Paige dejectedly sitting on the ground and ironically wearing his Cleveland Indians uniform.

Large quotes book end the wall of photos.

“Age is a question of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter,” a Paige quote states at the entrance to the fitness center.

A mural of Kansas City celebrities. (Photo by Kim Mueller)

Outside the eighth floor leasing office, another large mural, painted by local artist David Terrill, features caricatures of famous people with connections to the area, including saxophonist Charlie Parker, singer Janelle Monae, actress Joan Crawford, newscaster Walter Cronkite, aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart, and – once again – Hemingway.

“We are proud to be a part of Kansas City’s growing skyline with Two Light Luxury Apartments,” said Nick Benjamin, Cordish vice president of development.

“This collection of art celebrates the special people and moments that made Kansas City great in the past and are making it great now.”

A “Kansas City” manhole is in the Two Light lobby. (Photo by Kim Mueller)

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