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Meg Wagler, founder of MIDxMIDWST
Photo by Brandon AlmsMeg Wagler is the founder of MIDxMIDWST. Purchase Photo

MEG WAGLER

Founder, MIDxMIDWST

Podcast or Book Recommendations: Braving The Wilderness by Brene Brown, You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero, Start Here: Master the Lifelong Habit of Wellbeing by Eric Langshur | Social Media Handle: @megwagler_illustration, @midxmidwst

Breakthrough Moment: “In 2019 an artist in Paris featured my work in Stockholm, which led to some additional work features in Berlin and London. After that, I think people back here in the states thought, ‘Oh, maybe she’s not just a weirdo.’ I was able to book my first out-of-state mural in Dallas, which I think really propelled that avenue for me.”

With a 10-year career as a designer and art director, Meg Wagler is elevating the art scene in Springfield with MIDxMIDWST, a new live mural event slated for September.

As a visual artist and illustrator, Wagler has called 417-land home since 2007 when she began earning her BFA degree from Missouri State University. After working as a graphic designer and art director for a decade, Wagler shifted to an independent practice but found it difficult to find an art community where she fit in. “I was toggling somewhere in between the design ecosystem and the fine art ecosystem, and there didn’t seem to be a bridge connecting the two,” she says. While contemplating a move to a larger city with a stronger public art presence, Wagler realized she wanted to bring that sense of community to Springfield. “From there, MIDxMIDWST was born and has been developing alongside my art career simultaneously,” she says.

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Originally slated for last fall, MIDxMIDWST will debut in September 2021, and will be the area's first mural festival experience. The two-day fest will include a collection of nine local, regional and national mural artists painting live on downtown buildings while festivalgoers watch. There will be two stages with live music, beer gardens, art installments, vendors and an art skatepark. The event will also include a VIP opportunity to mingle with the artists while listening to the headliner band later in the evening. “MIDxMIDWST is a not-for-profit arts and culture initiative focused on elevating artists’ careers and baking new layers of flavor into our art community,” Wagler says.

The event has a non-negotiable approach to make sure all artists and bands are paid respectable wages for their time and creative contributions. “We’re moving the needle on our community’s intent in valuing art and artists,” Wagler says. “It will take time and consistency, but by showing up year after year and not asking for free or devalued work, we’re showing artists locally and abroad that 417-land values what they bring to the table.” Wagler hopes this will increase the retention of artists who already call 417-land home and will give the community a foundation for creative talent acquisition.

Eventually Wagler plans to work on bigger initiatives like establishing a public art residency program. “I don’t believe grass is greener on the other side. I believe it’s green where you water it,” Wagler says. “I have a deep desire to create a really loving, robust and diverse community here in 417-land. The best way I know how to bring that to fruition is through the world’s best connector: art.”

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