Muralist Natalie Shugailo can be followed on Instagram at @sub_urban_warrior. (Photo: Submitted by MidXMidwest)

A well-known artist is putting on a major mural festival in downtown Springfield this week that will leave a couple of buildings transformed.

Meg Wagler, the muralist who painted the Boys & Girls Club in vibrant designs, is bringing together artists from all over the country to paint eight works of art on local buildings. 

The murals will be painted in front of a crowd at the city’s first MidXMidwst event, organized by Wagler to elevate the subculture around street and urban art in Springfield. 

The event stretches two days, September 10-11, and will take over a section of Robberson Avenue, bookended by a stage on each side for live music. 

Eight artists — some of whom have traveled from Los Angeles, Denver, Kansas City and other urban areas — will split up, with four on each side of the event. The muralists will paint side-by-side, canvassing one side of two separate buildings. 

Springfield needs ‘texture and grip’

The aim? To interweave a modern, colorful flair into Springfield’s more traditional art presence.

“I believe in the potential of Springfield to not necessarily just grow in population, but grow in diversity and texture,” Wagler said. “That spans a lot of different ways. Not just demographics, but art styles and job opportunities.”

Wagler, who graduated from Missouri State University in 2011, said she believes cities need to be “grippy” to help retain college students to live and work in the cities in which they study. Springfield, she said, tends to see talent flight.

With her background in branding and advertising, she thinks this issue could be addressed by making Springfield a more interesting place to live.

“A lot of it comes back to texture and grip,” Wagler said. “It’s the veneer, and the feeling you get when you see a thing and interact with it. You can do that at a city scale. A tangible and accessible way to do that is through public art.”

EDM, light shows and more

The vibe of MidXMidwst is festival-esque, with musical performances from EDM, synth-pop, indie and alternative artists. The headliner for the weekend is Portland’s Strfkr, a synth-heavy indie rock artist. 

Leaning into the DJ scene, the event will also include a light show. Wagler said she is bringing in digital image mappers from Denver to conduct a light show on the silos next to the eFactory building.

“It’s an awesome way to showcase what’s possible with digital art and how that’s evolving,” Wagler said.

The event will also include food, beer gardens, temporary art installments and pinball machines. Tickets for the event are $60 and get attendees a weekend pass to come and go as they please. Wagler said the money is going toward paying the artists and bands at the event. 

Tickets can be purchased through the MidXMidwst website, and are also available at the gate. Wagler said she expects attendance to be around the 5,000 mark, but acknowledged that it was hard to estimate considering that it’s a first-time event.

Even those who don’t attend will get to see the results. Two buildings —  the east side of Park Central Office (right next the Bank of America) and the west side of the eFactory — will end the event more colorful than before.

“The artists are giving back to the community with these murals,” Wagler said. “We get to keep that.”

Brittany Meiling

Brittany Meiling is managing editor at the Springfield Daily Citizen. She is a career journalist, most recently working as a newsroom analyst for the Los Angeles Times and a reporter for the San Diego Union-Tribune. Springfield-born, Meiling grew up in Republic and graduated from Missouri State University with a degree in journalism. More by Brittany Meiling