East Ninth community art projects adjust amid pandemic restrictions; deadline extended until fall

photo by: Nick Krug

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

The long-running East Ninth Street projects had been planning the unveiling of its 19 community art projects for Lawrence’s May Final Friday art walk event, but the coronavirus has delayed those plans.

The artistic installations and performances that comprise the Rebuilding East Ninth Together project are community-based, with many calling for public participation and gatherings. Project Facilitator Mandy Enfield said that, due to the pandemic, many of the artists had to modify their projects, and ArtPlace America, the project’s funder, granted the project an extension through October as a result.

“Everyone is being patient and creative, and thinking about what they can do moving forward and how they can still have community involvement and be true to the community-based artwork values,” Enfield said.

To adjust, a group piece has been adapted to a solo project, an audio project is now collecting community recordings through a hotline and a community garden project is now relying on socially distanced gardening. Another community sewing project is now leaving craft kits for people to pick up and work on at home. Adjustments and more details about all of the 19 projects, which include 14 projects by adult artists and five youth projects, are available on the project’s website, rebuildingeastninth.com.

Enfield said that one of the projects even went beyond making adjustment to comply with gathering and social distancing restrictions and donated its funding to the local food pantry. Artists Kent Smith and Mike Riggs, who are making a sculpture, decided to built the sculpture with found materials instead and donate both the materials funding and their artists fees to Just Food, for a total donation of about $6,750.

“There is a lot of great give back to the community going on,” Enfield said.

The East Ninth Street art project is being funded by a $500,000 ArtPlace America grant that was awarded to the Lawrence Arts Center in June 2014. When originally proposed, the plan generated community debate and some concerns from neighbors, and it was ultimately scaled back. Originally, the art was to be designed and installed in tandem with the city’s street and walkway improvements along East Ninth Street, but the projects are now being done separately. The new iteration of the project began in 2018 but still includes some of the originally selected artists.

Enfield said that the project was able to provide artists more funding as a result of the adjustments that had to be made and the additional time required by artists. She said that after one artist was not able to participate and other aspects of the project came in below budget, the project was able to give each of the 14 projects by adult artists another $500.

As of right now, Enfield said there are no definite plans for the unveiling and final celebration of the projects, as it will depend on the situation at the time.


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