Meeting the artist behind a viral Independence Avenue Bridge painting

Published: Sep. 11, 2023 at 4:22 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 11, 2023 at 4:37 PM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - The Independence Avenue Bridge in Northeast Kansas City is being brought to life by a local artist, Thomas Gieseke.

“Feed me!!!!” laughed Gieseke.

The Kansas City illustrator-artist who describes his style of art as low-brow or pop-surrealism has immortalized the truck-eating bridge in an abstract painting.

“It’s called the Independence Avenue Bridge,” said Gieseke. “In the Northeast part of KC, this bridge is their version of America’s Funniest Home Videos,” said Thomas Gieseke.

There have been a lot of videos. Truck after truck, torn apart by the low-bearing bridge.

It was built in 1912 and is 12 feet tall. The problem is now the average tractor-trailer stands at 13.5 feet high. Do the math and you can see the problem. KCTV 5 checked with the city and since 2020, the bridge has been hit nearly 40 times.

“It’s been clonked and donked,” said Gieseke. “There’s always some guy that thinks he’s going to make it.”

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That’s the inspiration behind Gieseke’s creation.

“I love painting monsters,” said Gieseke.

So, he turned the bridge into one.

“It’s an abstraction of the bridge,” explained the artist. “I think my whole brain is infected with silliness.”

The silliness was a huge hit. Gieseke posts each of his paintings on social media, but normally the response is minimal.

“This thing gets 3100 shares and over 700 likes,” said Thomas.

He said he has sketched it a few times over the years, but this was the first time he put the oil to canvas.

“And I couldn’t believe the attention it’s getting,” said the Artist. “I thought this was going to be like a little throwaway piece and it would be the end of it.”

Far from it. Gieseke said it’s become so popular, that he is now making prints and soon t-shirts.

The painting itself is also for sale at about $3000.

You can find more information on the painting or other merchandise here.

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