Advertisement

Archive for Thursday, July 27, 2006

Artist proposes creating sculpture trail by river

July 27, 2006

Advertisement

Marie Thompson said she knows many Lawrence residents prefer to avoid the Kansas River, though it flows just north of the city's popular downtown.

"A lot of people don't come down to the water because they feel creeped out," Thompson said.

Thompson, though, is trying to build momentum for a project to clean up at least a portion of the river - by using art.

Thompson, a Leavenworth artist and a member of the Lawrence Art Guild, envisions turning a narrow dirt trail that connects Burcham Park and Constant Park into an improved sculpture trail featuring art works that can double as wildlife habitat.

"I think it is a very elegant idea," said Baldwin sculptor Matt Kirby, one of several artists who have expressed support for the project. "I think it will be very neat to go into an environment that is a little bit wild and then find human-made structures that are meant to interact with the environment."

The idea is working its way through Lawrence City Hall. City commissioners have asked the Lawrence Arts Commission and the Parks and Recreation Department to look at the proposal and make a formal recommendation. Thompson said the city has a lot to gain from the idea. Constant Park is just north of downtown, near Sixth and Kentucky streets, and Burcham Park is near Third and Indiana streets in the historic Pinckney Neighborhood.

"I think it could be a great resource," Thompson said. "If you are visiting town, I think you would like to do something on the river. You just have to make it inviting."

Marie Thompson is organizing a Kaw River art project titled "Kansas River Expression of Soul Project." The project would incorporate eco-art pieces by contributing artists and scientists and would place these sculptures and art in an area along the river between Burcham and Constant parks. Thompson is pictured by the river near Burcham Park.

Marie Thompson is organizing a Kaw River art project titled "Kansas River Expression of Soul Project." The project would incorporate eco-art pieces by contributing artists and scientists and would place these sculptures and art in an area along the river between Burcham and Constant parks. Thompson is pictured by the river near Burcham Park.

Thompson also is not asking for any city money. Instead, she hopes to do much of the trail work with volunteer labor. She currently is working to take advantage of a unique Westar Energy program that provides such help for public projects that create interaction with the environment.

Brad Loveless, a biologist with the Topeka-based utility, said about 30 Westar employees and retirees do such projects as a hobby. Westar allows the use of some of their equipment on the projects.

"We're interested in it because it is a beautiful area down there, but it is not very accessible and there's nothing to draw people there and make them feel safe," Loveless said.

Thompson, though, will undertake fundraising to help cover expenses and pay artists selected for the project. She said she hopes to have the first piece of art in place by the end of the year to generate fundraising interest for future works.

Kirby - who has done several pieces for the area surrounding the Kansas Speedway - has committed to do the first piece. But he said it will be different from traditional works because all pieces must also serve as wildlife habitat.

He plans to use leftover concrete from a local concrete plant to create uniquely shaped objects that will be placed along the riverbank. The concrete blocks would help stabilize the riverbank and also provide new habitat for a variety of animals.

Comments

ThePoolBoy 8 years, 4 months ago

Great concept, Marie, but the trail and adjoining land isn't for sale. The sole purpose of the land can only be used for homeless camps. Because, see, if we don't allow them to live by the river or under the bridges, then we are forced to harm their dignity by encouraging them to live in our parks and downtown areas.

No one wants to live in a planter in downtown Lawrence. No one, Marie.

Don't force the homeless downtown. Don't invade their habitat. It's protected, ya know.

Think of the homless, Marie. Think of the homeless...

lu_hsien 8 years, 4 months ago

I don't understand, wouldn't the homeless want to live in a sculpture garden?

Anyway I'd like to see the drawings for the proposal.

conservative 8 years, 4 months ago

Gee, we need a sales tax increase, but we want to add sculptures for a little used, and sometimes dangerous area. Yeah, I'm real convinced the the city commission is doing all they can to trim our budget before rasing taxes.

superduper 8 years, 4 months ago

Poolboy:

I thought that's what the concrete habitats are for...the homeless. There's an idea fer yall :)

RustyShackleford 8 years, 4 months ago

That is classic. If I weld a skillet to a ball of twine can I get a grant? It's bad enough we've got the ghastly structures we do downtown.

O, and come on: "dangerous?" If anyone thinks the river trail is a scary place I'd suggest they spend a few days in a city. Even Kansas City. If you're feeling adventurous South Chicago or Detroit or New Orleans. You'll come back feeling pretty damned comfortable in lovely Larry.

And to stand up for the homeless/undesirables here: Lawrence without those elements, along with assorted hippies, anarchists, actual working class neighborhoods, &c. is already out there for all of you who want to live there. It is called Lenexa.

common_cents 8 years, 4 months ago

"Thompson also is not asking for any city money. Instead, she hopes to do much of the trail work with volunteer labor. "

HOPES: definition - will propose it but will then ask for money if people want to be paid for their work.

One more silly thing we have to pay for while our infrastructure falls apart around us. At least we'll feel "safe" when we go down there... as often as we do, since most of the time we are WORKING to pay for our out of this world property taxes.

bluerose 8 years, 4 months ago

the idea is interesting as long as the sculptures are natural and fit the surroundings and it doesn't eventually become paved and "landscaped". i love to walk that path. i've never felt afraid and have not seen homeless camps or even much trash along there. funny how people can manage to find fear anywhere...

the term "expressions of soul" makes me shudder a bit though ... a little too new-agey, thank you.

clarkcoan 8 years, 4 months ago

It's about the only semi-wild trail in the central city. Let's keep it natural. --Mr. Trails

Christine Pennewell Davis 8 years, 4 months ago

could be cool and if something was down there maybe cops would show a precence.

Christine Pennewell Davis 8 years, 4 months ago

go out side the city for wild ok. and it is probbly safer to do so.

Confrontation 8 years, 4 months ago

The homeless could use the new sculptures as coat hangers and dressers.

mztrendy 8 years, 4 months ago

I actually prefer to look at the mountain lions by the river. Much more natural.

NorthLawrenceDude 8 years, 4 months ago

Kearney, you sure know a lot about how things "work" down there. HMMMMMM.

At any rate, I am totally against this stupid idea. We enough so called "ART" (junk) in this town. Let Marie (hippie) put her junk somewhere that won;t spoil what is left of nature.

georgieporgie 8 years, 4 months ago

I don't know. I kind of like nature just the way it is. Do they have to use concrete? I wish there were other oulets for artistic imagination. Lawrence seems loaded with sculpture. If it's a temporary installation, I could go for it. But permanent...artistic styles change, tastes change, I'm afraid what they put up there will be considered ugly and garish in ten years. You know...quaint and unmeaningful. Concrete has been a popular medium for graffiti for centuries.

Ken Miller 8 years, 4 months ago

Hows about some "art" in front of the old Farmland plant? Like a really really REALLY big piece so we don't have to look at Farmland?

Sandra Willis 8 years, 4 months ago

jabotb; I saw your test, what did you mean by that?

JimmyJoeBob 8 years, 4 months ago

Let me see we don't have enough money for streets and sewers but we are considering spending money on more art. Let's wait until we can afford the necessities before we start spending money on other luxuories.

Kontum1972 8 years, 4 months ago

hmmmm...Marie Thompson/Artist...nice to see ya slide over from 11worth. Art by the river, hmmmmm....i understand Prof. Emeritus Eldon Tefft's "Keeper's of the Universe" still needs some work done to it you might want to touch base with him i am sure he would appreciate the help (advice from one sculptor to another). Eldon knows sculpture. Glean from him while he is still with us, i learned alot from him when i mentored under him. Keep your chin up!

ps..nice pic!

Kontum

bretherite 8 years, 4 months ago

It won't be for familes - children will be banned due to the fact they will climb on the statues and might get hurt because mom won't be paying attention to them.

Kelly Powell 8 years, 4 months ago

Let me tell you what would happen to those sculptures....Within a year they would be spray painted, broken, thrown in the river or stolen.....I'd bet much money on that.

Godot 8 years, 4 months ago

"the term "expressions of soul" makes me shudder a bit though ... a little too new-agey, thank you."

It means "concrete feet."

Godot 8 years, 4 months ago

I think there is another connection to Austin in this proposal.

Ward 8 years, 4 months ago

Kearney. WTF? You're all over the place. Guys in the woods and now you criticize the subject of the article bc you think she's had face work??? What is the point?

Commenting has been disabled for this item.