Mullinville sculptor M.T. Liggett was as bold as his art

Well-known Kansas artist M.T. Liggett passed away at the age of 86. (Photo courtesy KSN News)

MULLINVILLE, Kan. (KSNW) – Thousands of Kansans were intrigued by the work of M.T. Liggett. The Mullinville artist died August 17 at the age of 86.

If you have driven from Wichita to western Kansas you’ve most likely passed some of Liggett’s provocative roadside sculptures.

“It’s just kind of been a staple of our county,” said Stacy Barnes, a friend of Liggett’s.

The sculptures in Mullinville represent decades of works by M.T. Liggett. The art is as bold and divisive as the artist himself.

“I know over the years he’s maybe hurt some feelings with various totems and things he’s made,” added Barnes.

Those totems Barnes is referring to have referenced anything from Greek mythology and Shakespeare to criticizing local and national politicians.

For fellow artist and family friend, Stacy Barnes, M.T. Liggett was an inspirational mentor.

“Somebody who wasn’t afraid to say what he thought, and to me, that work was very important,” explained Barnes.

While some people took offense to his work, Barnes knew a softer, more welcoming side of M.T.

“To see him get on a busload, with a busload of people and talk about his work is one of my fondest memories, and being here in his shop with him, as I’ve brought visitors over,” added Barnes.

Over the years, Liggett was featured in books and documentaries for his art.

“I know we have people from all over the world who stop along this highway to see his work,” said Barnes.

One of Liggett’s fans is Henry Chandler. Chandler is from Norfolk, Virginia and he first stumbled across the sculptures years ago on a trip to Colorado.

“Turned around and looked at it, so if I ever come back out this way, I like to check it out again, take a few photos, so I did today,” said Chandler.

Now, M.T. Liggett is immortalized through his art. Liggett set up a trust to continue to pay his property taxes and keep the sculptures right where they are.

“He definitely was quite a character,” said Barnes.

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