Fading Boundaries. Art & Buildings.

“I was interested in art but I grew up in a constant state of learning about architecture - studying how spaces look and feel,” explained Joseph excitedly as we set up the video cameras to record the 20 hour process of turning a blank canvas into a work of art. 

Joseph’s studio in his Kansas City family home was cluttered with variously sized canvases and paintings still in the works. His beautiful murals of churches and family portraits with bright colors and contrasting shading were hung on the walls, the paint texture playing beautifully with the light. This space, humble but perfect, was where creativity could flow free, and art and architecture could combine. 

An empty lot and an empty canvas both present an opportunity to make people see beauty in the world.
— Joseph Almendariz

A few days prior to the encounter with Joseph, five Prairie Design Build team members sat in their office around a glass table trying to answer the abstract question - how do we visually depict the potential of a house if we haven’t built it yet? 

The PDB team was working on drawing attention to an empty lot they owned that was ready to be built upon. The lot, located three minutes from KU Med and nestled in a lovely cul de sac, had incredible potential for a beautiful new family home. The team had floor plans and renderings to showcase for the site, but these didn’t quite align with the fact that the home was not built yet and had no input from a client's own imagination.


As with most unchartered ideas, David spoke up with a little hesitation, “I know an artist who does really good architectural painting, maybe he could paint us something beautiful?” The rest of the team unanimously agreed that a painting represented exactly what PDB stood for - meticulous detail, attention to beauty, and craftsmanship. That’s what the lot had the potential to hold.

So, the next day we set up our cameras and Joseph began to paint. Joseph explains the power of painting, saying,  “I think there is that creative spirit in everybody and that art stimulates that creativity and allows people with other talents and the means to create things to be pushed a little farther than they would of without that inspiration. I see art as the catalyst in architecture.”


His process is extremely meticulous as we see in the video. He covers the canvas and then as quickly as possible places the elements of the house on the canvas. To get the scale of the building he paints people into the scene, a near impossibility to see in a video that compresses 20 hours of diligent brush strokes into two and a half minutes of video. We can see when the idea of the house changes in Joseph’s mind and he alters his vision on the canvas. The colors begin to take shape and beautiful landscaping comes in. “There are colors that focus your eyes. I’ll put a little yellow flower near a wood element with sunlight sparkling on it to allow your eyes to explore and find correlations between things that you may not have noticed.” We notice the way the Prairie Design Build windows glimmer, how the wood around the veranda is rounded, and the colors between building materials add visual appeal to the home. Joseph brings art to an empty lot.

Painting stimulates creativity in the viewer whereas a photo just showcases a thought.”
— Joseph Almendariz

As the painting comes to a close we see beauty unlike any we could capture in a photograph. “I think the paint allows more inspiration, it allows the viewers imagination to continue the thought, but a photograph, the thought is what it is. Painting stimulates creativity in the viewer whereas a photo just showcases a thought.”

Four days after we first set up the cameras to capture Joseph’s work, it was time to collect them and begin to put together the time lapse. As we were closing up shop, Joseph explained what his hope was for the painting, saying, “My goal is to paint hope, joy, peace, love, even if it’s not exactly seen in the painting. The painting should stimulate creativity in the home owner and maybe push the home owner further in their design of their home on that lot.”

And with that Joesph concluded that original thought David had glimpsed in his mind at the Prairie Design Build office five days earlier - let's see what we can do with the area that fades between building and art.