Serve & Protect.

Providing quality service and protection for your Mercedes-Benz is a hallmark of our business here at Mercedes-Benz of Kansas City.

We offer an array of service and protection plans that will provide the necessary maintenance of your vehicle and the desired peace of mind of knowing your Mercedes-Benz will maintain its performance and value for years to come.

From extended warranties to lease protection to pre-paid maintenance packages to exterior protection plans we offer many ways to protect and service your Mercedes-Benz. What do they each provide? Well, let’s break it down.

Extended Warranties

By purchasing an extended warranty, new car owners can add years and mileage to the life of their vehicles, so that coverage is extended. These extended options can be customized based on driving habits, personal preference, and the length of time you plan on owning your vehicle or vehicles.

Lease Protection

With lease protection, new lessees receive coverage at lease end for some chargeable items that go beyond normal wear and use (such as minor dents, scratches, and certain damages). Lease protection can protect lessees from an unexpected bill after turning in a vehicle at the end of a lease term.

GAP Insurance (Guaranteed Auto Protection)

Sometimes, the worst can happen in the most unexpected circumstances. In the event that your vehicle is totaled in an accident, GAP insurance pays the difference between the actual cash value of the car (what your insurance carrier will pay) and the balance owed on the auto loan. This ensures that you will never owe money on a car that has been totaled.

Paint and Interior Protection Package

Our high-value “Touch of Class” protection package helps preserve the brand-new appearance of a vehicle using an interior and exterior treatment that works to prevent blemishes and stains. Five reapplications of the protectant are included in the back, each with a full vehicle detail. There’s a reason this is one of our most popular options

Pre-Paid Maintenance

Customers can receive bulk discounts on service and take the hassle out of maintenance with pre-paid vehicle maintenance available at the time of vehicle purchase. This allows customers to pay for vehicle maintenance up front. It can be financed with the overall price of the vehicle, which locks in costs and eliminates future out-of-pocket payments.

Wheel + Tire Protection

Modern alloy wheels are easy to damage and costly to fix. Customers can limit their expenses by investing in our Wheel + Tire Protection package that covers the repair of damages.

Windshield Protection

Windshields are expensive, vulnerable and are usually not covered by insurance. Windshield protection will replace your windshield in the event it is damaged by a road hazard.

Paintless Dent Repair

A vehicle can get a lot of scuffs when parked in a busy parking lot. With our paintless dent removal package you can bring your car in as many times as you like to remove small dings and dents.

We try to make service a smooth process here by offering the ability to schedule service online. We will also pick-up and deliver your vehicle to you. During this current CoVid crisis we are adhering to all state and local mandates for safety.

Our Customers Have Spoken.

To be awarded Top-Dealer by both CarGurus and CarFax is truly an honor. In order to be selected for this award our dealership had to receive a minimum yearly average rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars on the CarGurus platform and 4.6 out of 5 stars on the CarFax site. Each site collects customer reviews and catalogues the responses for a yearly average that determines which dealerships around the country receive this award.

“CARFAX has more than 2.2 million verified customer ratings and reviews for dealerships around the country,” said Bill Eager, CARFAX Vice President of Dealer Business. “The Top-Rated Dealer program recognizes the best of the best for exceptional service and customer care.”

“We are thrilled to recognize Mercedes-Benz of Kansas City as a 2021 Top Rated Dealer,” said Sam Zales, President and COO at CarGurus. “CarGurus is known as the leader for trust and transparency in car shopping, and we are proud to honor all of the dealerships that reflect the same values. The Top Rated Dealer program gives dealerships like Mercedes-Benz of Kansas City the opportunity to showcase their customer service excellence, and we applaud their high standards.”

Our commitment to customer service and a luxury experience has provided us an amazing opportunity to deliver a level of service to the Kansas City Mercedes-Benz market that is unparalleled. We believe in delivering above and beyond what our customers expect while maintaining a selection of inventory that is difficult to rival. We couldn’t be prouder of both of these awards and look forward to earning the trust and business of many more current and future Mercedes-Benz owners here in Kansas City.

The Mercedes of Luxury Midsize SUVs

Benchmarks can’t be benched.

That’s the mantra that keeps the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC SUV at the forefront of the luxury SUV game. When you test drive the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC SUV, you’ll know exactly why it has earned rank as the brand’s most popular SUV model. 

The 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC SUV is available in three different versions, and those are the Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 SUV, the Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 4MATIC® SUV, and the Mercedes-Benz GLC 350e 4MATIC® SUV. What you get will weigh on your choice, but all versions of the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC SUV are certain to demonstrate sporty proportions, refined performance, and cutting-edge technology. 

The Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 SUV and GLC 300 4MATIC® SUV are powered by 2.0L inline-4 turbo engine rated for 255 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque. The Mercedes-Benz GLC 350e 4MATIC® plug-in hybrid SUV combines that same 2.0L I4 turbo engine with a 90kW electric motor that scores a combined rating of 315 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque. That GLC 350e features brisk acceleration, launching from 0 to 60 mph in just 5.6 seconds.  

The cabin of the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC SUV is your own personal cockpit with the 10.25-inch central touchscreen, a reconfigurable 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster display, and an intelligent voice assistant system that recognizes and responds to conversational commands. Past a diverse range of upholstery and trim level options, the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC SUV features an available 64-color LED ambient lighting system, Burmester® surround sound, and a suite of driver assists designed to bring you confidence behind the wheel.  

New this year, PARKTRONIC with Active Parking Assist and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert is now standard on all models. For more information on the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC SUV in Kansas City, we invite you to reach out to the team here at Mercedes-Benz of Kansas City and schedule a test drive.

Mercedes-Benz AMG® Vehicles

When it comes to high-value luxury vehicles, any Mercedes-Benz model can deliver premium comfort, quality, and features. However, for luxury drivers who also want the height in performance, there is a subset of the Mercedes-Benz family that can offer all that and more: Mercedes-Benz AMG®. What is Mercedes-Benz AMG®? Each of these models represents the height of their specific vehicle range. Whether shoppers prefer the AMG® E 43 midsize sedan, or the compact AMG® GLC 43, Mercedes-Benz AMG® vehicles in Kansas City MO can burn up the road or the track and offer top comfort at the same time.

What is the difference between a high-quality Mercedes-Benz vehicles or an elite Mercedes-Benz AMG®? While a Mercedes-Benz AMG® model may have unique features, like a sport-tuned suspension or interior design accents, one of the biggest differences is in the engine and output. In many cases, a Mercedes-Benz AMG® model will offer more than 100 horsepower than a base model. Select Mercedes-Benz AMG® models also come with premium, handmade engines that are designed to truly deliver an elite and unstoppable experience. Mercedes-Benz of Kansas City offers both Mercedes-Benz and Mercedes-Benz AMG® vehicles

What Mercedes-Benz AMG® Engines Are Handmade?

There are six available engine options in the Mercedes-Benz AMG® vehicle lineup. Five of those six are each assembled by hand by a single AMG® engineer. This allows these vehicles to offer not just premium performance but truly be works of art. The AMG® 4.0-liter biturbo V8, 5.5-liter biturbo V8, and 6.0-liter biturbo V12 are all handmade. Vehicles with these elite engines are designated with either a “63” or a “65”. Available on the Mercedes-Benz AMG® CLA 45 and GLA 45 is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that is also handmade.

The 3.0-liter V6 biturbo engine in the Mercedes-Benz AMG® E 43, GLE 43, SLC 43, C 43, GLC 43, and GLE 63 offers elite performance, but is not constructed by hand by a single engineer.

If you are interested in learning more about Mercedes-Benz AMG® vehicles in Kansas City MO, contact a member of the Mercedes-Benz of Kansas City sales team or click here to schedule a test drive.

UNPLUG: For Your Health.

“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you” – Anne Lamont

One possible answer to so many questions
might be found in this quote from author
Anne Lamont: “Almost everything will work
again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including
you.” My best translation is – take
your time, pause, stop, and step back. And
consider repeating that same action several
times a day.
Regardless of your life, work, and family circumstances,
we are all in challenging times,
and, at the moment, the majority of us are at
least mildly “stir crazy.” And, there are more
difficult decisions ahead. We have jobs to do,
families to care for, community responsibilities,
and challenges from all sides of government,
including the outcome of the elections;
and, at the same time, we are challenged
with the necessity to make wise choices,
manage self- care, and to find ways to maintain
connections with the people we love.
In the midst of sorting things out and establishing
priorities and best practices, there is an
abundance of both scientific health necessities
and psychological “must dos.” Too much information
can create the perfect storm for frustration.
Reinforcing that concern, a client recently
shared that a daily link on her phone – IDEAS
FOR SELF-CARE – had become more annoying
than helpful. Consequently, my suggestion: If
you are annoyed by the do’s and don’ts for getting
through this quite-taxing, anxiety-provoking
pandemic and the demands and changes
dictated for staying healthy – and, I must add,
alive – it’s simply time to acknowledge that too
many self-care instructions/suggestions/dictates
– including this one – are putting many
on overload. And, in spite of that reality, paying
attention is essential, because the situation we
face in our states and in the country is with us
for a longer haul than we might want.

Regardless of your personal approach to the challenges, my suggestion is to “unplug”, step back, reflect, and focus.

As holidays approach, the best thing for many, especially
the extroverts among us, would be a big or even
small event – plans for holiday and family celebrations
and special occasions … football games and other sporting
events. Most people are anxious to talk, and celebrate,
and hug people we love and like. Regardless,
those historic, typical, traditional things we have been
accustomed to embrace aren’t the best things to actually
DO without unprecedented precautions.
If you DO pay attention to science and trustworthy
news, and I deeply hope you do, you already know that
recommendations for holidays are to avoid gatherings if
you don’t know precisely where people have been and
who they have interacted with – including your families.
Acknowledging there’s a growing and fairly natural resistance
to such precautions, I still struggle when I read the
governor of New York had to shut down a 10,000-person
wedding. That plan, at least to me, is a bit “off the page,”
even for those of us who might be high risk takers or perhaps
feel “science” is hard to manage, even believe.
Regardless of your personal approach to the challenges,
my suggestion is to “unplug,” step back, reflect, and
focus. Take the pressure off for the things you think you
should be doing and focus on the basics of health and
self-care even when they feel more restrictive than you
want. And give yourself credit if you believe you’ve done
a quite good job managing a truckload of restrictive
time already. The winter months will be more challenging,
and as long as we trust science, it’s possible to dial
back, find simple efforts at self-care, and manage the
restrictions necessary for health and well-being.
Science tells us the basics: wear a mask, social distance,
and wash your hands. Psychology is telling us countless
things to do – often far too many to sort through. Consequently,
my suggestions are to address the areas of your
life where you feel pressure, and then prioritize your own
self-care in balance with the efforts you make to show up
for those you live with and work with daily.
The point of what to do is to focus on just one thing at
a time. Once you feel the one thing is helping, move on
to an additional effort. Just don’t try too many things
at once. If you take all the advice from what you read,
including articles like this one, you will likely bog down.
And as you try just one thing at a time, include the simple
task of “unplugging” several times a day – step back and
stare out the window, maybe step outside for a few minutes,
even if it’s not ideal weather. Clear your head. And,
as you unplug, try this breathing technique: Breathe in to
a count of four; hold your breath to a count of seven; and
exhale through your mouth, slowly, to a count of eight.
Repeat this exercise four times.
Finally, acknowledge that if we are to get through this
challenging season and still enjoy our families, friends,
and holidays, we have to have a plan. It needs to be simple,
basic, easy to act on, and it needs to acknowledge
that we are in a challenging health crisis that demands
the best from all of us.
And as always, reach out if you need to talk.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Linda Moore has been in practice in the Kansas City area for over 25 years and is a
published author on personal and family issues.

The Enduring Power of Art and How It Helps Us Move Forward in Challenging Times

The phrase “man of the world” could have been coined with Julián Zugazagoitia in mind. He was born in Mexico City into a family steeped in history, creativity, and culture. He has lived in Paris, Rome, and New York. Since 2010, when he was named director of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Julián Zugazagoitia has called Kansas City his home.

What is it about Kansas City that has made it feel so much like home for you?

The most beautiful surprise that this city has given me is to have the murals at UMKC by Spanish painter Luis Quintanilla. He was exiled because of the Spanish civil war and he ends up in Kansas City painting some murals. He dedicated them to my grandfather. [Julián’s grandfather fought the Fascists in Spain of the 1930s. He was eventually captured by the Gestapo and executed.] Those murals make me feel that this is really home.

Does your family’s amazing history impact you and what you do, on a daily basis?

It’s different moments of consciousness in which you start realizing the complexity of your own identity. Growing up in Mexico City there were not a lot of questions, but I left for the UK for the first time when I was 12 and that was the first big shock. It was the beginning of my understanding that we’re all immigrants all the time. Identity is such a complex thing.

As we speak, the museum is closed due to COVID-19, and the world is also seeing protests demanding equal treatment and opportunity for all people. What does a place like the Nelson-Atkins mean in times like these?

When society and humankind come to moments that really challenge us, humankind needs to express itself. Art has found ways to tackle even these things. We have had pandemics in the past. Our collections have examples of artists creating art during very difficult moments. What I see is art that goes beyond the forms we normally celebrate. New generations expressing so much through social media and digital form. People can connect with us in the digital world.

The inside part of the museum is closed but people can still come and enjoy the landscaping and the sculptures. I trust that just being in the environment, in front of the art, is inspiring.

Some may look at places like the Nelson-Atkins and think, ‘Well, that isn’t really for me because of my socio-economic status or education or skin color.’

I know you and your staff work hard to make this a place for everyone.

We have made a lot of efforts to be a place of openness, of inclusivity, of making sure that everyone feels ownership of the museum’s legacy. Today’s events call for more effort.  I would say from the moment we opened this building in 1933, the first speech at that time said this place is for all groups, all races, all creeds. This is work that has to be done by society at large and work that we have to do together. We have a wonderful and wide diversity of people enjoying the museum and that is something we need to continue to foster.

We are using this time to look at ourselves as staff, look at our history as an institution, to reassess our collections, how collections have come to be. We need to be more cognizant, more attuned to our times. We also need to understand that we are part of a stream of history, knowing others have also faced times like these. Society today is waking up to many things. The younger generations are making us more aware of where we should be going.

In these uncertain, unsteady, unchartered times, should we look to art and places like the Nelson-Atkins as some sort of constant?

The nature of expression is always going to be there and museums like ours provide the ability to travel, not only the geographies of distant cultures but also in time. To see how time and different cultures and different civilizations and different ways of thinking are represented through art. A museum like ours can teach you that there’s hundreds of ways of thinking. That should give us a sense of awe. A museum like ours gives you a variety of possibilities. You see that humanity has so many ways of expressing and being. We can engage in dialogues that enrich and enlarge our perceptions and make us have more points of view than one.

Article taken from Fall 2020 edition of Today Kansas City Magazine, a publication of Soave Automotive Group. Interview by Joel Nichols.

The Mercedes-Benz GLB 250 4MATIC®

A compact SUV with innovative technology

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLB 250 crossover utility vehicle sits smack in between the company’s GLA and GLC, which is a pretty nice place to be because it offers the room of a larger vehicle with the maneuverability of a smaller one, and it does so at an affordable price. The GLB appears to be aimed directly at young families who want a spacious cabin, good fuel economy, a small third-seat option, and Mercedes-Benz styling.

The GLB’s 111.4-inch wheelbase is 5.1 inches longer than the GLA and only 1.7 inches shorter than that of the GLC. The long wheelbase not only contributes to a smooth ride but it accounts for 38 inches of back-seat legroom. The somewhat boxy exterior features an upright front section with short front and rear overhangs. The practical design allows 41 inches of headroom in the front seat, and a low step-in height makes getting in easy for youngsters or adults with their arms full of groceries.

Surprisingly, the GLB has a base price of $36,600 for two-wheel drive and $38,600 for 4MATIC® all-wheel drive. The base price swells with popular options, and the model I drove had a sticker price of $50,150. Competitors include the BMW X1 and Volvo XC40, among others.

Powering the GLB is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that has been completely updated to deliver sprightly acceleration and fuel economy that is rated at 23 miles per gallon in the city and 31 on the highway. This aluminum engine has cast-iron cylinder liners, four valves per cylinder and variable cam timing. It is paired with an eight-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission that seems to be in the right gear at the right time whenever you need some extra punch for passing or changing lanes. One reason the engine feels so lively is because the GLB’s curb weight is a comparatively svelte 3,638 pounds.

The two-wheel-drive version sends power to the front wheels, while the 4MATIC® permanent all-wheel-drive system with variable torque distribution sends 80 percent of the power to the front wheels and 20 percent to the rear in “Eco/Comfort” driving mode. In Sport mode that shifts to 70 percent front and 30 percent rear. The Dynamic Select switch lets the driver choose Sport, Eco/Comfort, and Individual settings to control all-wheel drive although the system reacts intelligently to the current driving situation in any mode. In off-road mode, the all-wheel-drive clutch acts as an inter-axle differential lock, and power distribution is balanced 50:50 front to rear. An Off-Road Engineering Package further enhances the GLB’s off-road capabilities, because it adapts the engine’s power delivery and the ABS control to tackle off- road terrain away from paved roads.

For a vehicle aimed at young families, the cabin is of prime importance, not only in terms of comfort but also in terms of convenience. The split-folding rear seat, for example, can be moved closer to the front seat, making it easier for the front-seat passenger to reach a toddler in a child safety seat or to increase the rear cargo area. The sliding rear seat also improves access to the optional third seat, admittedly best suited for youngsters. The large tailgate opens to reveal a sizable cargo space (62 cubic feet with the seats folded).

The GLB has ISOFIX and TOP-Tether anchorages for child seats, and these can be used to attach up to four child seats in the rear. The third row includes two drink holders between the seats as well as two stowage compartments with a rubberized insert, each with a USB-C port. The third seat folds flush with the load compartment floor.

The Mercedes-Benz instrument panel now consists of two screens, one for a digital instrument cluster and one as a touchscreen for operating various vehicle functions such as audio, navigation, Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. The test car was equipped with the premium package that includes two larger 10.25-inch screens that sweep across the instrument panel like a large computer tablet. The gauge display can be changed in several ways, and many vehicle functions can be controlled by voice. “Hi, Mercedes” is all you need to say to get access to many functions. While the test car was not equipped with its own navigation system, I could connect my phone with Apple CarPlay and use my voice to get directions, play music, etc. Navigation with augmented video and speed limit assist adds an additional $1,150.

The GLB also offers optional driving assistance systems with functions adopted from the benchmark S-Class. Using this technology, the GLB is able to drive semi-autonomously in certain situations. To do so, it keeps a close eye on the traffic with camera and radar systems that allow it to see up to 1,640 feet ahead. The GLB also uses map and navigation data to support assistance functions. The driver assistance package of adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, evasive-steering assist, active-brake assist with cross-traffic function, emergency stop assist, lane-change assist, and active-steering assist adds $2,250.

Mercedes-Benz says that one in three of its vehicles sold worldwide is an SUV, and one in four a compact model. Thus, the GLB is poised to tackle an energized SUV market with a compact size, innovative technology, and everyday usability. For the opportunity to purchase one today, check out our Express Store.

Just the facts….

Engine: 2.0-liter, 221-horsepower four-cylinder

Transmission: 8-speed dual-clutch automatic

4MATIC® all-wheel drive

Wheelbase: 111.4 inches

Curb weight: 3,638 pounds

Base price: $38,600

As driven: $50,150

MPG rating: 23 in the city, 31 on the highway

ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER
Tom Strongman has a degree in photojournalism from the University of Missouri and was
formerly the director of photography and then the automotive editor of The Kansas City
Star. Tom, a member of the Missouri Press Association Photojournalism Hall of Fame, has
written about and photographed cars for more than three decades.

Bringing Dust to Life

by PATRICIA O’DELL | photos by ANNA PETROW

Chentell Shannon is creating a company and a culture that celebrates community.

It’s possible that Chentell Shannon shouts, but it’s difficult to believe that she would. She’s built Convivial Productions – a company that creates collections of handmade wares for the home, table, and garden – over the last five years with a quiet, steady hand. While she does not pretend to know all the answers of what happens next, she is conscious and careful with her life and her company as she considers what is best using her own definition of success.

While Shannon is passionate about what she does and how she does it, she was not envisioning her future as she made clay pots in kindergarten. Her interest in pottery came much later.

“My older sister is two years ahead of me,” Shannon says. “I was the
quintessential younger sister. I thought she was so cool. I wanted to be just like her.”

Shannon’s sister had enrolled in a ceramics class in high school, so she enrolled in a ceramic class in high school.

“Then, independently, I really started loving it. I took ceramics class-
es every semester that I could. Then I started doing independent study with my professor and learned wheel throwing and hand building.”

She discovered she has a visceral experience working with her hands.

“I think your mind goes into a different state,” Shannon says. “For me it’s therapeutic. It’s a release.”


She followed the same path in college, taking pottery classes and doing independent study. Her senior year, she found that she wanted to share the process and started looking for ways to introduce other people to the craft.

“Art therapy was the path that classified as a career in the arts. Even though I wasn’t really interested in the clinical aspects of art, it was the thing I thought I could make a career out of.”

But the reality of art therapy wasn’t the same as creating. She studied community art, which felt more organic. But after graduation, she became more and more interested in designing, creating, and selling her work. She trusted that all the components of the things that she had learned would come into play and become a career.

“It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately,” she says. “We’re five years in. The first year was just me, then some interns, then part-time people. I think we were in five spaces before here.”

“Here” being the light-flooded space on the fourth floor of one of the old brick buildings in the West Bottoms that accommodates Convivial’s growing team. Shannon said this last move felt significant.

“When we moved here two years ago it felt like we jumped from being an individual studio to an actual company. There was consistency and culture.”

Convivial recently took over the full floor and has committed to the space for three years. Shannon says that the growth and expansion raise questions about who and what Convivial should be.

“I want to be really intentional with our growth. What will our products be like? What will the studio be like? What will our culture be like?”

She’s discerning about expanding the product line and how they will move forward as a company. This conscious movement drives decisions in every aspect of the business, including a recent opportunity to paint a mural on the side of the building.

“We had the opportunity to do the mural and we considered putting our name on it,” Shannon says. “But it’s not our building, so we reconsidered. Recognizing the neighborhood seemed like the right thing to do.”

The mural, which Shannon’s team designed and painted with the help of community volunteers, reads, “Welcome to the Historic West Bottoms.” This result is part of a broader philosophy.


“Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about how owning a business is an opportunity. We can either work within the outline of standard business practices or be creative in how we approach growing and sustaining as a business.”

Shannon thinks this applies to where they invest, how they approach sales, as well as their motivation. This thinking is the root of Convivial’s creative, alternative, community-based marketing approaches, such as collaborating on murals, events, and dinners.

“I want to be creative with how we approach partnership and marketing,” she says. “We’re exploring putting those resources toward investing in the culture of our community and the architecture of our city, determining if this works as a more holistic approach for our staff, community, and customers.”


While she moves thoughtfully, Shannon and her team want Convivial to create more pieces, more lines, and, perhaps more importantly, more jobs. But they are careful about growth.

“What we do is not trend based. That’s why we don’t do limited editions. We are being intentional about things that last. We want our customers to know that if they buy dinnerware from us, they will always be able to get it.”

The company is currently exploring creating new concepts. Verdant, a plant and flower shop in the Crossroads that carries planters and candles, is planned for the spring.

Shannon sees Convivial as the parent company, while responding to smart opportunities along the way.

“I would rather keep being creative. This could lead to more variety, which could bring more chaos – or more success. We want to keep things fresh. The questions that I will always come back to is, ‘What will I be proud of?’”

Breathe. Enjoy.

by JENNIFER LAPKA

He climbed two steps toward his upper-floor New York apartment and paused to catch his breath.

Two steps more, pause, catch. He could not wait to see his wife and children who were at
home waiting for him.

Two steps, pause, catch.

He checked his
email on his phone so as to not feel like he was wasting time.

Two steps, pause, catch.

Art reflects life, which is particularly true for artist Dylan Mortimer and his current body of work. Born with Cystic Fibrosis (CF), he is currently living and breathing thanks to a third set of donated lungs. According to CFF.org, CF is a progressive genetic disease affecting the lungs and digestive system. “In the lungs, the mucus clogs the airways and traps germs, like bacteria, leading to infections, inflammation, respiratory failure, and other complications. In the pancreas, the buildup of mucus prevents the release of digestive enzymes that help the body absorb food and key nutrients, resulting in malnutrition and poor growth. In the liver, the thick mucus can block the bile duct, causing liver disease.”

Dylan was born in 1979 in Ohio and grew up in St. Louis. He was 10 years old when he was diagnosed, at a time when the average lifespan of a person with CF was 17  years. As a boy, Dylan loved drawing. He drew comics and thought about art school very early on, an idea supported by his parents. When he was 14 years old, he saw a flyer for a month-long summer art program at the Chicago Art
Institute pinned to a board at his St. Louis high school. He and a friend attended that program.

After high school, he moved to Kansas City to secure a bachelor’s in fine arts in painting from the Kansas City Art Institute. He studied under the now-retired Welsh abstract painting instructor Warren Rosser. Over the course of his time there, Dylan’s figurative painting changed to mixed media and sculpture and installations. After
graduating in 2002, he moved to New York to pursue an
MFA from the School of Visual Arts, graduating in 2006. While there, he was deeply influenced by faculty member and artist Tommy Lanigan-Schmidt, who is typically associated with the American Pattern and Decoration art movement of the mid-’70s through early ’80s. (Lanigan-Schmidt is also well known for his involvement with the Stonewall Riots of 1969, which are widely considered to be the most important event leading to the modern fight for LGBTQ+ rights in America.) Pattern and Decoration was championed by New York gallery owner Holly Solomon and inspired by 1960s liberation politics, particularly feminism. Artists were producing large paintings, collages, and sculptures emphasizing pattern and all-over decoration using pipe cleaners, foil, cellophane, glitter, and other inexpensive materials.

In 2019, Dylan had his second full lung transplant in New York and  moved back to Kansas City with his wife and two sons. He is currently artist-in-residence at the Townsend Building in Brookside, which is full of his works. These will be shipped to the University of Iowa, where his next show is taking place. That show will will conclude with adding his work to hospital, pharmaceutical company, and medical center collections. Paper, paint, caulk, glue, and glitter covered the studio’s surfaces, ready to be made into more works depicting cells, bronchial tubes, mucus, etc., and certain moments, feelings, and memories pertaining to his experiences of living with CF. Dylan used to resent the idea of making work about CF. “I didn’t want to talk about it; I didn’t want anyone to pity me.” But now, he fully embraces it and wants doctors, caretakers, hospital staff, and fellow survivors to see it and be inspired by it. In fact, he is taking speaking en gagements about his art and is thrilled he is able to simultaneously raise awareness about CF and art.

When asked about his goals for this year, Dylan replied: “I want to be happy and healthy, to continue running and biking with my sons. It is a gift to breathe, and it’s no less a gift for anyone else. Breathe and enjoy. I highly recommend it to everyone.”

Three of Dylan’s works have been recently installed at the KU Med Health Education Building (HEB). You can see his Open Spaces project, a pink painted tree called “Tree, Broken Tree,” in Swope Park; and a sculpture and two collages in the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art collection. You can also visit his representing gallery, Haw Contemporary, and website DylanMortimer.com.

A Legacy in Values

by KELSEY CIPOLLA

Spend some time with Pat Cocherl, affectionately known to many as “Mr. C,” and a few things quickly become apparent: his love for his family, his admiration of the founding fathers (particularly Thomas Jefferson), and his desire to give back.

All these passions come together at the Cocherl Family Foundation’s Jefferson Building. The Leawood space was designed from a drawing by Jefferson that had never been built. The stately structure is filled with references to its namesake as well as other early American visionaries, mixed in with photos of the Cocherl clan: Pat, his wife of almost 50 years, Kathy, and their five children: Jennifer, Shawn, Ryan, Kristen, and Patrick.

The building opened in 2017 and serves as the headquarters for the Cocherl Family Foundation, which is run by all seven family members united to pursue a single purpose: helping kids.

RIGHTING A WRONG
The Cocherl Family Foundation’s mission is in some ways penance for a wrong choice Mr. C made decades ago, he explains.

Cocherl was serving as president of the Blue Valley School District’s board of education in the mid 1980s when a vote passed in favor of integrating students with special needs into the district’s schools. He didn’t agree, thinking it would adversely affect the quality of education, but the
board voted and he was overruled. The program launched at the school where the Cocherl family’s youngest son, Patrick, was about to start kindergarten.

After a few weeks at school, Patrick asked to invite his friend Jake over for a playdate. When the friend arrived, the Cocherls were surprised to see that he was in a wheelchair. Jake’s mother explained some of the basics they would need to know to help Jake during his time at their home, and
the kids had a blast. Meanwhile, Mr. C realized he’d made a huge mistake by rejecting the idea of making the district more inclusive.

“I went to every school in the school district and apologized for my vote and vowed that day to right that wrong,” he said. After working behind the scenes for some time, the Cocherl Family Foundation was born in 2003, a formal entity dedicated to making a difference in the lives of
local children.

“It’s the best thing I’ve ever done in my life,” Mr. C says about the foundation’s work.

THE GIFT OF GIVING
The Cocherl Family Foundation is truly a family affair, starting with its funding. Mr. C’s company, Heartland Customer Solutions, offers support services for Panasonic products and put the Cocherls in a financial position to give back. The family’s own money is the lifeblood of the foundation, which also accepts donations from people who believe in its charitable mission.

Since its establishment, the nonprofit has given to numerous organizations that work to improve life for kids, including the Rose Brooks Center, Beat the Monster, and Children’s Mercy Hospital. It’s also helping to provide funding to a new Wonderscope location in South Kansas City. And in recent years, one of the biggest focuses has been Keep the Spark Alive, an organization determined to prevent suicide by funding innovative programs and initiatives in schools, starting with Blue Valley.

Additionally, the Cocherl Family Foundation offers annual scholarships to Blue Valley students who receive special education services through individual education programs, commonly known as IEPs. The awards fund
their post-high school education, whether that includes attending a college, university, or vocational school.

Mr. C estimates hundreds of area students have received the renewable scholarship since it was established. The scholarships not only set these students up for success after graduation, they also help them develop a sense of self-worth and confidence they might otherwise lack, parents have told the family.

Of course, the Cocherls haven’t been without challenges of their own. Several years ago, the family’s patriarch suffered a massive heart attack that brought him to the brink of death. Mr. C survived, but the experience put his philanthropic mission into even sharper focus.

After recovering, he wanted to ensure the work of the foundation will outlive him and Kathy through their kids, who play an active role, bringing their own projects and ideas to the family’s quarterly meetings where future commitments are decided.

With the children fully invested, the foundation is poised to make an impact for years to come. “I realized that I had more pieces to put in place to finish, and I’ve now done that,” he says, adding, “For the first time, I realized my mortality and it made me hyper-focused on what’s important.”