New framework for East Ninth Street art proposed

photo by: Nick Krug

East Ninth Street in East Lawrence is pictured on Jan. 27, 2018.

Ideas are starting to take shape for adding art to East Ninth Street.

The Lawrence Arts Center, with input from members of the East Lawrence Neighborhood Association, has created a draft proposal that establishes a loose framework, budget and timeline for the long-running project.

ELNA board member Dave Loewenstein, a member of the work group that helped create the proposal, said the conversation about the draft is continuing and that one goal is to keep the neighborhood involved as the process moves forward.

“We’re trying to revive it in a way so that we can, as a community, benefit from the grant,” Loewenstein said.

The art for East Ninth is being funded by a $500,000 ArtPlace America grant, which was awarded to the Arts Center three and a half years ago. The project has adjusted, stalled and restarted over the years, but the proposed draft still includes some elements of past proposals.

The draft, which is available on the ELNA website, proposes that the five artists previously selected will be invited to create projects in one of two categories, one based on neighborhood research and the other on collaboration with the community. The research phase would focus on the history and culture of East Ninth Street and the adjacent East Lawrence Neighborhood, according to the draft proposal.

“Using cartography, alley archeology, people’s history, documentary sound and image, social gatherings and other creative means, we could bring new understanding to the culture, history and spirit of the neighborhood,” the proposal states.

The five local artists previously selected as part of the original concept are Meredith Moore, Rachael Perry, Nick Carswell, Stephen T. Johnson and Zia. The draft proposes that the project facilitator, ELNA and the Arts Center also select five “jurors” to help guide both categories of art that will be created.

About $343,000 is left of the $500,000 grant, according to information the Arts Center previously provided the Journal-World. In addition to payments for the artists, the proposed budget provides funds for a part-time project facilitator, “resident specialists” and youth artists.

Interim Arts Center CEO Cindy Maude said the Arts Center is currently taking feedback on the draft. In addition, ELNA is going to further discuss the project at its Feb. 5 meeting. Maude said the input will be used to revise the current draft, with a final proposal scheduled to be presented in March.

Originally, the art was part of a city street reconstruction project, but city officials have said the possibility for integrating the two projects is waning. The City Commission has approved funding for the street reconstruction only, and plans are underway for the project to begin in the spring. However, some art may still need approval from the city.

The proposal notes that the city, in addition to overseeing the rebuild of the street, will oversee any public art projects that “trigger review.” Porter Arneill, the city’s director of communications and creative resources, said that, generally speaking, if artwork is to be temporarily or permanently installed in the city right-of-way, it would require review by the Lawrence Cultural Arts Commission and the City Commission. He said special events would also require permitting and city review.

The proposal states the project facilitator will serve part-time for two years at a total cost of $50,000. The facilitator is slated to be hired in March, with the project itself to begin the following month. Both categories of art projects are scheduled to be completed in March 2020.

Comments and questions regarding the draft proposal can be emailed to Maude at