The Crossroads is Growing and Stronger than Ever
Updated: Sep 29, 2021
People out on the back patio of MOD Gallery & Space at 1809 McGee, Kansas City, Missouri. (photo by Kat Day) The Crossroads Art District is comprised of artists, galleries, restaurants, bars, small businesses, condos and apartments. Kansas City people love to come down for the First Friday events and enjoy the arts, entertainment, food, and drink.
Artist Phil Dunn talking with a customer at MOD. (photo by Kat Day) Back in the 1990s, the Crossroads Art District was about 80% vacant buildings and warehouses. Jim Leedy,an artist and art sculpture professor from the Kansas City Art Institute, started the Leedy Voulkos Art Center,which was an establishing point for the Crossroads Art District. Jim Leedy, artist and gallery owner, states on KCUR Central Standard how he first opened a gallery in Westport and wanted to start an art center in Westport. Still, due to gentrification, and decided to keep looking. Leedy found a building down in the Crossroads and felt he had a way to help artists rent studios at an affordable price which would also help to pay the rent on the building. He did this to allow artists to work, live and give them a reason to stay in Kansas City to show their art. Jim Leedy, artist and gallery owner, states on KCUR Central Standard. John O’Brien, the owner of the Dolphin Gallery, which is no longer open, talks about how Jim Leedy sent him to find out the official name of the Crossroads Art District by looking through the Kansas City Archives. O’Brien attended a luncheon at the Hereford House with a group of men that were part of the neighborhood committee. Leedy wanted the district to have the proper name, not Leedytown or Leedyville. The name of the neighborhood had been lost, and it wasn’t called “Downtown.” The name of the community was Crossroads. So, this is how the Crossroads name was rediscovered.
First Fridays have become magical events in the Crossroads Art District. KC Wine Works has people all over the street around their business and up and down McGee. (photos by Kat Day)
More people are now all up and down McGee as it has grown with new businesses like KC Wirework’s, Casual Animal Brewing Company, Josey Records. The Hilliard Gallery and MOD Gallery & Space are still going strong. The vibrance of the Crossroads is still alive and the hip place to visit.
Josey Record Store at 1815 McGee in Kansas City, Missouri. (photo by Kat Day) People are out in the streets talking and buying art. The Crossroads is growing, and more breweries are popping up all over the area.
People out on First Friday on McGee in Kansas City, Missouri at the Crossroads Art District. (photo by Kat Day)
Some of the other businesses are Mean Mule, Parlor, City Barrel, Lifted Spirits, Brewery Emperial, Torn Label KC, Nimble Brewing, and The Brick.
Grinders, Mission Taco Joint, and International Tap House on the SE corner of 18th and Oak Street are attracting business as strong as ever. Border Brewing Co. is moving to a new location at 512 East 18th Street and opening in Summer 2021. One place that has survived since October of 2009 is the MOD Gallery & Space. It is impressive to see all MOD’s changes and how the gallery has made a fantastic comeback after the lengthy lockdown and closure from the pandemic.
People out back at MOD Gallery & Space, 1809 McGee, Kansas City, Missouri. (photo by Kat Day) The Crossroads is thriving and growing and has become more vital than ever. Let’s do all we can to make the Crossroads Art District the best it can be. Kansas City please remember to support your local artists.