Incite MHK invites artists to paint murals, holds air guitar competition

Anotações is a colorful piece created by Brazilian artist duo Bicicleta Sem Frio overlooking AJ’s NY Pizzeria on Poyntz Avenue. (Taylor Parish | Collegian Media Group) Photo credit: Taylor Parish

Incite MHK wraps up its annual multi-week event, hosting artists as they create murals around Manhattan. The event began Sept. 6 and ends Thursday, Sept. 16.

Jeff Sackrider, member of Incite MHK, said he is excited to see things up and running again. With the pandemic slowing things down in 2020, the organization did not hold the event this past year.

“It was unfortunate that we couldn’t do all of the things that we wanted to do,” Sackrider said. “As you see, now we’re making up for lost time.”

Local artists and artists from around the country are participating in painting murals, most of whom have not painted a mural before.

“I’m really happy that we’ve given opportunities to people in Manhattan that have the talent and the desire to create murals, but they haven’t had the experience or they haven’t had that opportunity,” Sackrider said.

Justin Howard, world champion air guitarist, joins local artist Nick Fisher in painting a mural in Manhattan.

“[Fisher] called me in May and mentioned that he had some more murals coming up and asked if I was available to come down and work with him, and of course I said yes,” Howard said.

Along with painting, Howard — also known as Nordic Thunder — will host an air guitar competition Thursday evening. The event features a workshop on how to play the air guitar starting at 5:30 p.m., followed by the competition at 5:45 p.m. and Nordic Thunder’s performance at 6 p.m. The winner will receive a $200 cash prize and a painted guitar case for their air guitar.

“Air guitar is about building community, having a way to express yourself in a safe space where you can wear a costume and act like a goofball and everyone supports it,” Howard said. “It helps build confidence and it’s entertaining and fun, but it’s also great for the community.”

The 10 contestants will have 60 seconds to showcase their air guitar skills. Howard said he would love to see the Manhattan community fully embrace Incite MHK this year.

“Whether they are participating in it directly or not, they can observe it and share it and take friends with them to go look at all of these murals,” Howard said.

Jenn Hudson, Manhattan resident and Kansas State academic art advisor, is a first-time mural painter and said she is excited for the opportunity this year.

“I have shown internationally at galleries in London before, but I am really excited to do this project because it will be one of the few personal projects that I’ll have an option to do,” Hudson said.

Many of the murals around Manhattan provide photo opportunities for people visiting or sightseeing and for local residents. A mural that sees a lot of attention is Anotações — “Notes” in Portuguese — a colorful piece created by Brazilian artist duo Bicicleta Sem Frio overlooking AJ’s NY Pizzeria on Poyntz Avenue.

“I’ve had people tell me that they have been moved to tears looking at [Anotações] and seeing their daughters or granddaughters,” Sackrider said.

Anyone can visit the works while they are in progress and after completion on Sept. 20. The murals are spread throughout Manhattan, with many centralized in the downtown area.

The Incite MHK website gives more details about the artwork, air guitar competition and upcoming projects in the community. Community reactions during mural production and a first-hand look at the painting process are also on the website.