New mural at American Jazz Museum embodies message of peace, collaboration

Robbie Phillips was impressed with the mural. Although it was a challenge, he said, due to his lack of appreciation for art.

What intrigued him more was the message of “Harmony on the Vine: Spill Paint Not Blood,” which was unveiled Friday at the American Jazz Museum.

The colorful, nine-panel mural is the work of more than 750 contributors from throughout the world, including Japan and Africa. It represents a mix of Kansas City’s past, present and future contributions to jazz.

The collaborative work of diverse artists also embodied, to Phillips, the message of peace.

The ceremony gave Phillips, his wife, Casey, and their four children a chance to talk about the importance of finding peace among people who are different.

The children range in age from 8 years old to 2 months.

“This is a good opportunity for a parent to tell a story of how important peace is in our world today,” Phillips said. “For me, that was the coolest thing about this opportunity.”

Cheptoo Kositany-Buckner, executive director of the American Jazz Museum, said the mural’s title derived from some of the divisiveness and violence occurring around the world.

She championed the artists’ work on the three-month project as a way to address the rhetoric of hate and separation.

“We’ve got to be a part of the solution and not sit to the side,” Kositany-Buckner said. “What better way to do that than to connect with art? To come together and spill paint and not blood?”

Muralist Michael Toombs designed and sketched the mural. It will be displayed at the atrium inside the museum through December, Kositany-Buckner said.

Toriano Porter: 816-234-4779, @torianoporter