My journey into the Acid Tunnels began in 2015 when I was taking a “diet graduate program” over the summer. I was given the challenge of finding ways to spice up my hometown of Springfield, MO by inserting pieces of art in places that they normally would not be in, also known as Art Dropping.
One of the ideas I came up with was to validate the experiences of different individuals in the Acid Tunnels with plaques throughout, somewhat documenting the history of a place that was popular with kids who grew up in the 90s. I poked around on several Springfield, MO themed threads asking for experiences of artists or simply explorers and was met with a fair share of hostility and sarcasm, ranging from stuff about a vampire cult to cutting to the chase and saying no one would want to reveal themselves. Upon further investigation into the vampire cult, it led me to discover that no one really knew the differences between the Jordan Valley Tunnels (downtown) and the Acid Tunnels (that run under I-44). It also appears the News-Leader Article talking about the cult were claims made by a similar, eccentric individual. This article helped others in the community snowball rumors to the point where the tunnels were considered truly dangerous places. Instead, they should just be viewed for what they are: a way to stop flooding and potentially a place for those that are homeless to find temporary shelter.
I scrapped the idea of putting historical plaques throughout the tunnel to give it a feeling of an art museum and glorify some of the pieces in it. Instead, I stuck to only putting one plaque to validate the name of the tunnel only, featured at the entrance. If it is spray painted on, scratched, or ripped off, it will only contribute to the overall theme of the tunnels. Everything is temporary.
That being said, while I was there I documented several pieces during my time there in July 2015. Here are a few of the works from that time:
Since my time in 2015, I have continued to go back to the tunnels and add more. My plaque has been removed but I’m thinking it was due to poor adhesive than anything malicious. Since I’m a jerk who loves monsters and creepy places, in 2016 I thought it would be best to add a Babadook, a monster from a movie of the same title. Of course, people are welcome to add to the tunnels and was changed to be “less scary” – a chain was added around his neck and a familiar theme of a penis decorating his lower half. Of course.
And, in June 2017, I invited all of the community’s artists to come out and join us in cleaning up the tunnels of hate speech graffiti. Before the current president took office, many people took swastikas to be funny/edgy. With the increase in hate crimes over the past couple of months, such imagery needed to be condemned. We also got the News-Leader to cover the story, which you can read here.
Since I received so many negative comments, I was convinced there would be people going into the acid tunnels out of spite for my censorship, but none did. In September 2017, I took a group down with me again to add more positive, silly messages while I painted Pennywise, the clown from the 2017 IT movie.
I’m sure there will be more to come with my post in the future, but this is all that I will add for now. I hope that if you are interested in the tunnels, you won’t be scared to go down and explore, and add some thoughts of your own. Happy painting!