This 'Wizard of Oz' mural in downtown Topeka was meant to include everyone. Now, it's gone.

·2 min read
A "Wizard of Oz"-themed mural at 723 S.E. Quincy was painted over two years after Capitol Federal and Kansas Ballet Co. teamed up for the project.
A "Wizard of Oz"-themed mural at 723 S.E. Quincy was painted over two years after Capitol Federal and Kansas Ballet Co. teamed up for the project.

Artist Sara Myer said she was "very let down" Sunday to see the "Wizard of Oz"-themed mural she'd helped paint two years ago on property owned by Capitol Federal at 723 S.E. Quincy had been erased.

Myer, of Topeka, said she was given no warning of the change.

The worst part, she told The Capital-Journal, was seeing the looks of disappointment on the faces of her 6-year-old son and 10- and 11-year-old daughters.

"I will certainly never do another mural for Capitol Federal again," Myer said.

A spokeswoman for Capitol Federal told The Capital-Journal on Tuesday morning that the financial institution would provide an answer as soon as possible as to why the mural was painted over.

The newspaper hadn't received the response by early Wednesday evening.

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Artist thought 'Wizard of Oz' mural was supposed to be permanent

What was once a progressive, Wizard of Oz-themed mural is now a blank wall attached to the Capitol Federal building facing the Shawnee County Courthouse at 723 S.E. Quincy.
What was once a progressive, Wizard of Oz-themed mural is now a blank wall attached to the Capitol Federal building facing the Shawnee County Courthouse at 723 S.E. Quincy.

Artists Myer and Jennifer Bohlander were the primary creators of the mural, which was painted in collaboration with the Kansas Ballet Co. and Capitol Federal.

Myer said it was her understanding that Capitol Federal officials decided to cover the mural with beige paint, and Kansas Ballet Co. wasn't given a choice regarding that.

"The rug was pulled out from under them," she said.

Myer said that until Sunday, she thought the mural was intended to be permanent.

"This came out of left field," she said.

The project that involved painting the mural was financed through the TopArts grant program, for which funding is provided from the city of Topeka general fund and administered by ArtsConnect Topeka.

"This is what community partnership is all about!" Capitol Federal said in a Facebook post at the time.

Sara Myer, an apprentice at Matryoshka Tattoo in Noto, works on painting in poppy flowers in a Wizard of Oz themed mural at 7th St. and Quincy Ave. on April 10, 2020 Myer and Jennifer Bolander, owner at Matryoshka Tattoo, have been taking turns creating this mural.
Sara Myer, an apprentice at Matryoshka Tattoo in Noto, works on painting in poppy flowers in a Wizard of Oz themed mural at 7th St. and Quincy Ave. on April 10, 2020 Myer and Jennifer Bolander, owner at Matryoshka Tattoo, have been taking turns creating this mural.

Mural was paid for with grant funding

Myer questioned Wednesday why grant funding would have been used to paint a mural that was only temporary.

The characters portrayed in the mural were more inclusive than the ones portrayed in the movie, as the scarecrow was a woman and the lion had dreadlocks, Myers told The Capital-Journal at the time.

The mural left open an open space in the middle beneath the rainbow where visitors could pose as Dorothy, and also bled into the curb so visitors in wheelchairs could pose with it.

Tim Hrenchir can be reached at threnchir@gannett.com or 785-213-5934.

This article originally appeared on Topeka Capital-Journal: Wizard of Oz mural here came and went over only two years