By Rochelle Valverde on April 30, 2019
Works of art planned as part of the East Ninth Street art project now include a large-scale sculpture, a short film created with the help of neighbors and a community reading room.
After reviewing 27 submissions, a panel of artists selected five additional works for the long-running East Ninth Street art project. Project facilitator Mandy Enfield said the selected proposals were high-quality and met the project’s goal of creating community-based art.
“These projects really, really got the community involvement and the community engagement that we were looking for,” Enfield said.
The newly selected artists will publicly present their projects at an event Thursday. The project team sought proposals in partnership with the East Lawrence Neighborhood Association and was especially interested in artists committed to building community, according to the request for proposals.
The project is being funded by a $500,000 ArtPlace America grant that was awarded to the Lawrence Arts Center in June 2014. When originally proposed, the plan generated community debate and some concerns from neighbors, and it was ultimately scaled back. Originally, the art was to be designed and installed in tandem with the city’s street and walkway improvements along East Ninth Street, which are nearing completion.
The five proposals are the second phase of the project and will join four artists previously selected to work on the project. Summaries of the five proposals are as follows:
• Eastside People’s Intercultural Center (Epicenter): “Homemade,” a community cookbook and meal. The proposal calls for an illustrated, intercultural cookbook filled with recipes and accompanying stories from East Lawrence, followed by a free tasting festival featuring many of the dishes. The Epicenter coordinating members will provide the research, design, writing and photography necessary for the cookbook.
• Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg and Kelly Hunt: “Songs and Stories of East Lawrence.” The proposal calls for artist-led community workshops to help create two or more original songs about East Lawrence history, an anthology of writing by workshop participants and a performance of the songs and anthology readings.
• Marlo Angell: “Shapes,” a multiscreen video installation. The centerpiece of the “Shapes” installation is “Square,” a 10-minute film that will be filmed and screened outdoors at the wishing bench at Ninth and Delaware. The film tells the story of a fictional longtime East Lawrence resident named Julio and his meeting with out-of-towner Moira at the bench. The creation of the film will involve local actors, filmmakers, artists and community members.
• Mike Riggs and Kent Smith: A collaborative, iconic, large-scale sculpture. The proposal, which references works such as the shuttlecocks at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, calls for a large steel pop-art sculpture comprising several oversized iconic items that represent the neighborhood. The items will be chosen with help from neighborhood experts and residents based upon historical and aesthetic value. The overall dimensions of the sculpture would be approximately 4 to 6 feet in diameter and 8 to 12 feet tall.
• Perrin Blackman, Reverend Verdell, Oliver Hall and St. Luke African Methodist Episcopal Church: The Langston Hughes Community Center. The proposal calls for the creation of a reading/research center, described as a comfortable space where neighbors can study and network. The proposal includes community events that celebrate the church, its history and the neighborhood.
A panel of five artists experienced with community-based art made the selections from the 27 project proposals submitted, according to a news release from the project team. Five resident specialists were also available to consult with the artists regarding neighborhood history. The five jurors who evaluated the projects were Nick Carswell, Michael Bradley, Marguerite Perret, José Faus and Grace Peterson.
Peterson, who is currently the City of Salina’s visual arts coordinator, was previously an instructor at the arts center, a member of the Lawrence Cultural Arts Commission and member of the East Lawrence Neighborhood Association. Peterson said the five projects selected were definitely not conventional public art but that they met the goal of the project and aligned with the values of the neighborhood.
“East Lawrence is a very vibrant, strong and unique neighborhood that needs to be acknowledged in the process of creating works for Ninth Street, because it goes right through their neighborhood,” Peterson said. “And I feel like all these projects did that.”
The original artists were selected in 2015, and Enfield said four of those artists would still be participating in the project. She said five or six additional projects would be selected as part of the third and final phase, for a total of 15 projects. Enfield previously told the Journal-World that each project team would be given $13,500 to create their installations and that art could potentially be placed in city right-of-way or on publicly accessible private property anywhere in East Lawrence, as opposed to just along East Ninth Street.
Enfield said the newly selected artists would start research and development on their projects next week, and all projects must be finished by May 2020. The five new East Ninth artists will present a short overview of their projects to the public on Thursday from 7 to 9 p.m. in the large gallery at the Lawrence Arts Center, 940 New Hampshire St.