News and notes from around town:
• I’ve seen some fragile things in the Lawrence Public Library before — the plot of the Twilight series comes to mind — but get ready to take that to a whole new level.
City officials are poised to install decorative pieces of art glasswork throughout the library project and even into the adjacent parking garage. The idea is part of a $75,000 line item in the library budget that calls for public art to be included in the $19 million expansion project.
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In October, city officials received proposals from 71 artists across the country seeking to win the $75,000 commission. An eight-member committee of artists, library employees and city officials has recommended Kansas City-area artists Dierk Van Keppel and John Shreve to undertake the project.
The recommendation still must be approved by the Lawrence Cultural Arts Commission and the Lawrence City Commission, but if it passes muster, get ready for glass, glass, glass.
The artists propose six pieces of glass artwork both inside and outside the library project. Here’s a look:
— Slivers of colored glass embedded into the concrete that leads to the entrance of the library. The amount and intensity of glass will increase as pedestrians get closer to the entrance.
— Pieces of multicolored art glass will be attached to the mesh-like metal screen that will encase the multilevel parking garage. The proposal says the glass will challenge “visitors to read space, surface and material in a different way.” (As long as it doesn’t challenge 40-year-old men to read the entire Twilight series, I’m fine.)
— A multicolored glass fountain that will be in the outdoor plaza area between the library and the parking garage. The glass will have a protective layer to make it a sturdy structure. In fact, the artists are billing the fountain as “climbable, sittable and viewable.” And actually, despite my jokes about things that are fragile, I think all the pieces proposed are designed to be pretty durable.
— Colorful glass panels that will identify local pieces of artwork scattered throughout the library and its site.
— Multiple panels of art glass suspended in the two-story atrium of the new library. The artists say the panels will morph into a “dynamic sculpture that suggests pages of a book that have been recast into new form and meaning.”
— Small pieces of art glass that will be “subtly layered” into the windows of the reading room. I believe most of the reading rooms look out over Watson Park, so the pieces of glass will be designed as lenses for people to see the landscape in a different way. (Note to designers: You may not want any of those lenses to be rose in color. Opponents of the library expansion are just looking for a chance to say the project was built with rose-colored glasses.)
It will be interesting to see whether the artists dare use pieces of purple glass — as in K-State purple — in their artwork in Lawrence. You think I jest, but given that I have a friend who is planning to move to Canada if K-State wins a national championship, I bet there would be some people upset by too much purple. (By the way, my wife has said I should also make the Canada vow, and she suddenly has started rooting for K-State.)
Van Keppel and Shreve have connections to Kansas University, so perhaps that won’t be likely. Van Keppel was a founder of Lawrence’s Free State Glass studio in 1986, but by 1991 he had left to establish Rock Cottage Glassworks in Merriam, which he operates today. He has completed many public art projects, including pieces at the H&R; Block World Headquarters in Kansas City, at Sprint World Headquarters in Overland Park, and at various area restaurants including the Leawood Hereford House, Lidia’s and Yia Yia’s.
Shreve is a senior vice president and senior urban designer with the HOK architecture firm in Kansas City, Mo. Shreve — who has worked on urban design projects ranging from the area around the San Francisco Giants ballpark to helping design an ecological golf course resort community in Dubai — received his master’s degree in American Studies from KU and currently is a doctoral student in the KU program.
The Lawrence Cultural Arts Commission is expected to consider the recommendation at its meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall. City commissioners are expected to consider the recommendation in the next several weeks.
• Speaking of things that are fragile, you should have seen my wife’s patience last night. (Insert your own joke about me, here.) We were at the Lawrence Community Shelter’s annual Chocolate and Tea at Three fundraiser, and let’s just say my wife was a little antsy for the chocolate to arrive.
There was an entire buffet table of chocolate creations that wasn’t yet open. I looked over at one point, and she looked much like Usain Bolt in the starter’s blocks before the Olympic 100 meters.
Anyway, the event seemed successful. I didn’t keep track, but I’m certain there were more than $5,000 worth of items sold at the event’s charity auction alone.
I also got an update on an item that had interested me about the shelter. I had seen a couple of weeks ago that a commercial real estate site had started advertising several thousand square feet of industrial space for rent at the shelter’s new location, which is a former warehouse building next to the Douglas County Jail.
The 10,000-square-foot space is the part of the building the shelter has planned to use for its jobs program. That is still the plan, but the shelter now is hoping it can rent the space to a company that will pay the shelter a lease payment and employ guests of the shelter.
Shelter director Loring Henderson told the crowd last night that the shelter is close to signing a contract with Berry Plastics and a local printing company. The site would be used to print logos on some Berry products, and guests of the shelter could get work there learning packaging, shipping and other job skills.