Posted on Fri, May. 06, 2005
Last photo By TAMMY LJUNGBLAD/The Kansas City Star
On the avenue: The art of KC's urban frontier
By THERESA BEMBNISTER
Special to The Star
Now here's a May afternoon mix that has a little something for everyone: a public art unveiling, an urban housing tour and a street party featuring popular Celtic rock band the Elders.
It's all happening downtown Saturday.
The fun begins at noon at 10th and Central streets, with a street party marking the opening of the annual Avenue of the Arts summer public art display. In an attempt to broaden the audience, this year the opening was timed to coincide with an Urban Housing Tour of downtown lofts, condos and apartments sponsored by the Downtown Council.
At 4 p.m., the action moves to Oppenstein Park at 12th and Walnut streets, where the Urban Culture Project and the Downtown Neighborhood Association will present a variety of musical entertainment and performances in conjunction with the housing tour. (See box on E-9 for details.)
The 2005 Avenue of the Arts consists of six public art projects installed between Ninth and 14th streets along Central Avenue. The pieces will remain on display through September.
Downtown revitalization is among the themes addressed by this year's artists.
“Cart of the Nephilim,” by Michael Schonhoff, sits at the base of the office building at 1015 Central. The gargantuan red pushcart, loosely attached to the building with a black strap in preparation to move the entire building, reminds viewers of the moving and shaking currently going on throughout the neighborhood.
A pushcart is a ridiculously inappropriate method of moving a structure — the artwork emphasizes the challenges ahead for downtown redevelopers.
Beniah Leuschke's palindromically titled, “No witness a fool. A nasal aria's time emits air, alas an aloof assent. I won,” sits on the southeast corner of 13th and Central.
Leuschke combines several artist-fabricated and found objects in his piece, including a children's bike, three basketball hoops, a bucket and mop, a bell with jump-rope ringer, Mobius strip-shaped bike rack and a pelican weather vane. The piece looks like the Swiss army knife equivalent of playground equipment.
Leuschke's sculpture offers an opportunity for physical and ideological play. Across the street on the northeast corner of the intersection is Matt Wycoff's “Quote,” a white billboard displaying the quote from the southern façade of the Municipal Auditorium in red letters: “Commerce has made all winds her messengers. All climes her tributaries. All people her servants. Yet from the land she draws her sustenance and her strength.”
While researching the auditorium, Wycoff learned that the structure was built during the Great Depression to breathe life into Kansas City's downtown. Wycoff seeks to question the role current redevelopment will have on Kansas City's future.
DeAnna Skedel's “Quem Quaeritis (whom you seek)” lies in the grass of the Lyric Theatre lawn. Skedel cast flower boxes in the shape of semitrucks. The trucks carry their cargo of dandelion-
esque flowers while lined up as if traveling an imaginary freeway across the lawn. Skedel is interested in dandelions as a symbol of tenacity.
Along the exterior wall of the parking garage at 10th and Central, Oz McGuire displays “PR Memorial (That Lynch Movie).” McGuire borrows stills from the NBC movie “Saving Jessica Lynch,” arranges the images in a grid and tints them the colors of the terror alert system. McGuire said he hopes the piece will inspire viewers to question media influences.
Eric Robertson's “Auto-node” is parked between Ninth and 10th streets. The artist attached a geodesic form — the autonode — to the top of a 1988 Cadillac DeVille.
“There's this object and you are asking me, ‘What is it? ' I am asking the same thing,” Robertson said. “I am taking it out on excursions to see how it functions.”
This summer Robertson and his “autonode” will travel to what the artist describes as “lost recreational places” throughout the city. He will document the excursions with maps and video. Follow the autonode's adventures at carl. typepad.com. The Avenue of the Arts program is sponsored by 360 Architecture, DST Systems and the Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation. A panel of local curators, artists and professional arts administrators selected the participating artists.