Life in KC

Kansas City painter Allan Chow finds adventure in art

Kansas City artist Allan Chow is known for rural and urban landscapes done in heavy oils spread with a palette knife.
Kansas City artist Allan Chow is known for rural and urban landscapes done in heavy oils spread with a palette knife. Julie Denesha

Over the summer, St. Luke’s Health System commissioned an Allan Chow. Chow, a native of Kuala Lumpur, agreed, as he has many times over the past 15 years since he graduated from the Kansas City Art Institute.

What Chow didn’t realize was how tricky it was going to be to get a good photograph of the landscape surrounding the hospital’s south location at 123rd Street and Metcalf Ave. in Overland Park. The hospital wanted a piece that would somehow portray its relationship with the community, but in a flat area, how was a landscape artist to see the big picture?

Chow got in touch with the owner of Brookside’s Leopold Gallery, 324 W. 63rd St., where he shows and sells his work.

Owner Paul Dorrell seems to seek adventure — his website bio states: “He has spent decades roaming America by motorcycle, riding through every contiguous state. Paul has lived in Alaska, New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, Italy, and England, and attempts to surf every time he visits California.”

No one’s saying it was the right thing to do, but someone had to climb a water tower in the name of art. Chow isn’t naming any names.

Regardless of who held the camera, Chow says he “didn’t really get the shot that I needed because from there you can’t really see the hospital.” All that miscreancy for nothing.

“I surveyed the environment and the neighborhood and tried to put the hospital in the middle, at the horizon,” Chow says. “Gave them a nice sunset atmosphere and built on something that utilizes my skills as a fine artist with color and texture.”

Chow, who previously worked as a graphic designer for The Star and is now national photography coordinator and graphic design manager for Kansas City’s HNTB Corp., is no stranger to artistic challenges.

Kauffman Stadium commissioned a painting from him in 2009.

“That was a really exciting project because I was able to go through some archived photos that the Royals provided,” he says. “I was going through photos of Bret Saberhagen and George Brett and all the other key players.”

He couldn’t find just the right shot then, either, and had to meld images together in order to portray the right mix of players celebrating. The final product is called “Crowning Moment” and hangs at the entrance of the Crown Club at the K.

He also painted three large panels that hang outside of Arrowhead Stadium’s executive suite. In total, the triptych is 40 by 13 feet — his challenge with that project was finding a space big enough to work on it.

Ultimately, he used the National Airline History Museum. He worked on the paintings in a hangar where pre-World War II fighter jets are stored.

“It was really cool because I had a key to myself and painted in there at night and could walk into the Connie whenever I wanted,” he says, referring to the Lockheed Constellation housed there.

Chow will be showing his work, mostly his signature rural and urban landscapes done in heavy oils spread with a palette knife, at Leopold Gallery’s 25th anniversary bash, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 30. The free event features art from more than 30 other artists, plus complimentary food from Avenues Bistro, live entertainment and drawings. Go to for more info.

Artery is a regular feature that showcases Kansas City-area artists. Know someone we should feature? Email