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Penciled in: Blue Springs' Ultican draws art inspiration from technical background

By Bill Althaus
bill.althaus@examiner.net
Blue Springs resident Brad Ultican discusses his artwork in front of a pencil portrait he created of Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes. The Mahomes drawing was one of Ultican’s first portraits as he is well known for his detailed pencil work that often highlights familiar Kansas City scenes and images from some of the 37 national parks he has visited.

It should come as no surprise that Brad Ultican’s father was a licensed architect and one of his grandfathers was a retired aeronautical engineer who worked on the early NASA Mercury missions.

The Blue Springs artist, who works out of the BruPrints Studio, 115 W. 18th Street in the downtown Kansas City Crossroads District, creates detailed fine art of familiar Kansas City places and scenes, along with landscapes from some of the 37 United States national parks he has visited.

He is also the paternal grandson of Thomas Ultican, a former teacher and Blue Springs School District superintendent who passed away when Brad was in eighth grade.

Blue Springs resident Brad Ultican discusses his artwork in front of a pencil portrait he created of Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes. The Mahomes drawing was one of Ultican’s first portraits as he is well known for his detailed pencil work that often highlights familiar Kansas City scenes and images from some of the 37 national parks he has visited.

“I think my mom has a picture of me when I was 3 years old drawing something while I was sitting on the couch,” said Ultican, whose downtown studio is usually open on First Friday weekends, which have been canceled lately due to the pandemic.

“I guess it came naturally since my dad was an architect and I would use his drafting table and his mechanical pencils. I loved those pencils when I was a kid, and now I use them for most of my art work.”

If he isn’t creating detailed pencil works of famous Kansas City scenes like The Scout, Municipal Stadium, Arrowhead and Royals stadiums and the Nelson Art Gallery, he uses a unique metal etching process that results in bold and intricate outdoor scenes – many of which feature historic views of our country’s national parks.

But his most famous piece is a drawing of Union Station from the 1920s with Jenkins Piano/Chickering Music Co., and National Biscuit Company billboards on the horizon, which add authenticity to the piece.

Brad Ultican's pencil drawing of Kansas City's Union Station.

Ultican has more than 800 hours in the incredible work of art that is always the centerpiece for conversation at the art shows he attends throughout the United States.

“Well,” he quipped, “you might say the art shows I used to attend. The pandemic has pretty much shut down all the shows and First Fridays, so I’ve had a lot of time to work on my art. I’m really enjoying the etchings and trying to find new ways to come up with pieces that hope will excite people.”

A large portrait of Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who led Kansas City to a victory earlier this year in Super Bowl LIV, is framed outside his studio door and has created a lot of attention.

Brad Ultican's pencil drawing of Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes in Super Bowl LIV.

“That’s really one of the first drawings I have done of an individual, and I’m really happy how it turned out,” said Ultican, who took part in his first art show in Prairie Village, in 2010. “After the Chiefs won the Super Bowl, I just had to do something of Mahomes, and what makes it really special to me is that I added the numbers of all his teammates who started the game in the background.”

Brad Ultican's etching of Kansas City's Bartle Hall.

Ultican’s last name is an instant attraction in Blue Springs because of his grandfather, the former BSSD superintendent.

“I was born in Lufkin, Texas, but my family moved to Blue Springs when I was young and I got to be around my grandpa quite a bit. Blue Springs was so small back then, and I know he did some great things for the school district.”

You can find more information about Ultican’s work at www.BruPrints.com or contact him at Info@BruPrints.com.

Brad Ultican Art (www.BruPrints.com)

Brad Ultican's pencil drawing of Kansas City's Municipal Stadium.