Downtown Wichita underpasses just got a bit more interesting

A series of murals under Old Town railroad bridges has begun to take shape, but the project designer says they won’t all be finished in time to greet visitors to the NCAA basketball tournament in March.

The murals at the First and Second street underpasses are designed to contrast the built environment of humankind with the natural environment of Kansas, said Todd Whipple, the designer and primary arts contractor on the project.

Each underpass will feature two murals facing each other across the street. One side will be a cubist-inspired cityscape, dominated by squared corners and rectangles – the other a more impressionistic take with waving prairie grass and ethereal figures. The murals are part of a larger city-funded project that also includes resurfacing of streets in the area. The original goal was to have the Old Town murals done as part of general sprucing up of downtown Wichita in anticipation of the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament. The Intrust Bank Arena will host first- and second-round games March 15-17, an event expected to bring Wichita thousands of out-of-town visitors and about $10 million in commerce for the local economy.

(Read more: Wichita Eagle)