News and notes from around town:
• At least one group of Lawrence residents is taking President Obama’s State of the Union message about innovation seriously. A group of local artists, KU faculty members and a Lawrence businessman are working with the city to try to land a $50,000 federal grant to start a new arts, science and technology incubator in the city.
The incubator would address a long-talked about goal of providing more affordable studio and gallery space to artists who are trying to make a living in Lawrence. But group members say the incubator would be unique because it also would be open to scientists and technology professionals who are working to develop new ideas.
“We want to see what will happen when we get really creative people working next to each other,” said Eric Kirkendall, a Lawrence art promoter and owner of Whirled Art. “We think it really will spark a lot of new business opportunities.”
Lawrence businessman George Paley is trying to give the incubator idea some legs. He’s agreed to donate the use of a building he owns at 506 E. 23rd St. for at least a year to the incubator project. He hopes that shows people the idea is a serious one.
“I’ve heard so many negative things reported about Kansas, and I would like to see some positive news about the state,” Paley said. “I think this could really put Lawrence on the map in terms of the national arts scene because the combination of science, technology and art is going to be different than so many other places.”
The incubator group currently is seeking $50,000 from the National Endowment of the Arts, but Kirkendall is hopeful that Kansas University also will help the project receive funding through the National Science Foundation. According to Kirkendall, KU hasn’t yet formally agreed to be a partner on the project, but several KU faculty members are actively working on the idea. They include: Barbara Kerr with the school of education; John Hachmeister, school of art and design; Ruth Ann Atchley, department of psychology; and Wally Meyer, school of business.
The group is asking for city assistance in submitting the grant request to the NEA, but is not seeking any city funding.
Despite the tight economy, Kirkendall said he thinks now might be a great time to win significant grant money for the project.
“I think people recognize that innovation clearly was the centerpiece of President Obama’s State of the Union speech,” Kirkendall said. “I think there’s going to be money available for this.”
• If you were a fan of the famous doughnuts at the now defunct Joe’s Bakery, have we got a deal for you. Lawrence auctioneer Mark Elston soon will be auctioning the original recipe for Joe’s doughnuts, along with the famous 15-foot Joe’s Bakery neon sign. Elston will auction lots of Joe’s Bakery memorabilia at 9:30 a.m. Sunday at the site of the former bakery, 616 W. Ninth St.
The recipe isn’t exactly a secret. Joe’s Bakery owner Ralph Smith in 2009 provided copies of the recipe to customers who had been inquiring since the doughnut shop shut its doors in 2007. But those were just copies. This one will be the original recipe, and Elston assumes it will give any one who wants to start commercially producing Joe’s donuts again the right to do so. Elston said he believes there also will be several other Joe’s recipes — it was famous for egg salad and sugar cookies, among other items — available for purchase, although he was still confirming those details when I spoke to him Monday morning.
So let’s see here: Recipes, neon sign, display cabinets, framed certificates declaring Joe’s as the “Best Donuts in the World,” rights to the phrase “Eat at Joe’s He Needs the Dough” are all available.
Am I guilty of trying to bait somebody into reopening Joe’s Donuts? Yes, yes I am.
• If you eat many Joe’s doughnuts, you might need to partake in a little exercise. (The former owner told the Journal-World in 2009 that he lost 50 pounds after closing the bakery.) The city of Lawrence might suggest a bike ride. As we previously reported, the city has created a map designed to show people some easy ways around town on a bike. Back in October, the map was only available online. But now there are printed copies that can be picked up on the first floor of City Hall and also at all Parks and Recreation facilities.