Fall 2014 Issue
Beauty of the Flint Hills by Newton Artist Observed at Arrowhead Stadium
Sharon Hunt Munson, daughter of the Kansas City Chiefs founder Lamar Hunt, is the director and developer of a new art program at Arrowhead Stadium. On July 1, 2012, Sharon Hunt Munson’s staff sent letters to art gallery owners in Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Oklahoma, and Arkansas in search of artists for Arrowhead Stadium’s new art collection. Out of 270 artists’ submissions, the Hunt family originally accepted 11. Only two artists were asked to submit more than one art piece. The Hunt family asked Phil Epp for three. “I was concerned if I would be selected,” says Epp. The three painted panels Epp submitted to the Kansas City Chiefs represented a mid-day prairie shower of layered blue and gray acrylics. For the commissioned painting his medium was acrylic on board. A movement of clouds and wind roll across the canvases, depicting a perfect contrast between rural and urban weather. Epp brings a still time lapse of the prairie into an urban environment with his painting. Other paintings will be viewed by many people and hopefully the viewers will be inspired said Epp during a filming of the Chiefs Kingdom documentary in 2013. Epp went through many phases of his art career before having his work selected for Arrowhead Stadiums new art collection.
Phil Epp was born Aug. 28th, 1946 in Henderson, Nebraska, to Isaac and Rose Epp. The Epps lived in a Dutch-German Mennonite farming community. Pacifism is one of the foundational elements of the Mennonite faith. They believe that any violence, including war, is unjustifiable under any circumstances, and that all disputes should be settled by peaceful means. They also embrace communities outside the church and believe that all communities should live in harmony with one another. Peace, tranquility, and open spaces are amalgams found in Epp's landscape paintings. Epp captures the Mennonite community by painting peaceful, vast open spaces.
Jodain Massad is the director of production for the Kansas City Chiefs and was in charge of managing and directing film footage of Epps’ art commission for the Chiefs Kingdom documentary. The Chiefs were looking for regional artists and wanted people that focused on regional landscapes and cultural significance. Epps’ work was some of the most visually appealing, says Massad. Epp wanted to introduce a place through his painting that people had not seen before. Many of Epp’s paintings, including the three panels that hang at Arrowhead Stadium, are of the Great Plains, specifically the Kansas Flint Hills. His style stems from a love for the Great Plains, where he was born and has spent most of his life. He also draws inspiration from the Flint Hills. Epp wants to show these Western vistas in a different manner by focusing on weather themes, not just bulls and spurs. The Kansas City Chiefs art committee did not want exact football images. They wanted artwork that revealed the natural beauty of the Midwestern region. The Great Plains, rivers, mountains, Ozark hills and trees, prairies, and open skies. Many hired artists chose to incorporate the Chiefs colors, red, gold and white, into their commissioned art pieces but Epp did not. He used gray and blue.
The project was about the Chiefs spirit and Midwestern roots. “The Kansas City Chiefs have 80,000 fans,” says Jodain Massad, “and I wanted to know how the artists were interpreting the opportunity.
Epp took the opportunity with the Chiefs seriously. Six feet tall and 39 feet wide, the project was the largest painting project he had been commissioned for. Epp believes that a sports stadium is an unusual but effective place to see his work displayed. “It is cool to see the expanse of space in the stadium since my paintings sort of deal with space, it’s a visual inspiration,” Epp said in a 2013 interview with KCPT. Many of the selected artists had a history that tied them to the Chiefs whether they had parents who brought them to the game or rode horses on the property before the stadium was built or, in Epp’s case, just a Kansas City Chiefs football fan.
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