Finalists for East Ninth Project art, design work announced

A westward view shows Ninth Street as it stretches toward downtown Lawrence.

East Ninth Project officials announced the finalists for two of the project’s commissioned work opportunities during Wednesday evening’s Citizen Advisory Committee meeting at City Hall.

Katherine Simmons, representing the Lawrence Cultural Arts Commission, shared the news along with images of each candidate’s work via a projector.

The project’s call for artists attracted plenty of local interest as well as applicants from as far away as New York City and Tuscon, Ariz., she said.

The two project categories each have six finalists, and they will now advance to the interview portion, slated for 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday at City Hall, and a final decision should be reached the same day, said Porter Arneill, the city’s director of arts and culture.

“This was the most thorough artist-selection process I’ve ever witnessed. Every single letter of interest was read by the group together,” Arneill said of the selection panel’s day-long portfolio review earlier this week. “They really worked their tails off.”

The East Ninth Artists category, which will ultimately choose up to four artists, drew eight applications. All East Ninth Artists finalists work and/or live in Lawrence. They are: Meredith Moore, owner of Wonder Fair; Rachael Perry, artist and facilitator of Lawrence Inside Out; artist, designer and filmmaker John Sebelius; musician and social activist Zia; May Tveit, Kansas University associate professor of design; and Nick Carswell, Irish-born, Lawrence-based musician of the band Carswell and Hope.

The second category, Integrated Artists, will select up to three artists. Its finalists are: Steven Johnson, of Lawrence, Christopher Janney, of Boston; Jarret Mellenbruch of Kansas City; Derek Porter, of Kansas City, James Woodfill, of Kansas City; and Sheila Klein of Bow, Wash.

A little more than half of the 24 artists who applied to the project’s three commissioned opportunities (the third, called Try it Out, drew only two applicants out of the desired six and has been put on hold for now) reside within the Kansas City area.

Ten live in Lawrence, two live in unspecified Douglas County communities and one applicant resides in Perry.

Also during Wednesday’s meeting, Citizen Advisory Committee members approved an amendment by City Leslie Soden to the East Ninth Project’s work plan that rejects any potential plans to turn Ninth Street into an “entertainment district”. The issue is scheduled be discussed at next week’s City Commission meeting.