Transforming the Pigeon Poop Underpass into the Coolest Gallery in Downtown

By Thomas Dalton

When people are asked about the Douglas Ave. underpass, just west of Union Station, most of them give the same description Matt Riedl of the Wichita Eagle gave, “It’s musty, dark, and populated primarily by pigeons (and their poop)”. It’s a space that could be generously described as sketchy, and one that should be actively avoided, lest you wish to be used as target practice for a territorial pigeon. And yet, this was the very space that a group of artists and cultural producers from the North End Urban Arts Festival, Yellowbrick Street Team, and the League of Creative Interventionist Wichita Chapter wanted to pack with people, light and art.

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The basic premise of the project was to take a location that was avoided, and through the temporary installation of art and light, transform a negatively valued place to an area that people actively sought to be; creating a positive association with the Douglas Ave. underpass, and setting the stage for discussions when permanent renovation work begins. The project sought to bring into focus the strong urban arts scene that exists in Wichita, showcasing street art, created by artists of color, not often featured in established downtown art galleries. The project saw the side-eyed view that the underpass and street art share, and sought to transform the community’s perceptions.

The goals were rather daunting, given the space chosen and its firmly established reputation; but through the installation of lighting, graffiti panels, and engaging the public with participatory painting, the task was not impossible. The first challenge was to brighten up the underpass as it’s a dark space, even on the brightest of days. More than two dozen color-changing LED flood lights were brought in, not just to provide light, but to provide a powerful burst of color; inverting what was dark and dingy into bright and colorful. DJ’s filled the space with music, which aided in scaring away the pigeons, and provided the beats for more than one impromptu dance contest.

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The most important aspect to bring, however, was the art. Each month, a new street artist was commissioned to create a new work on plywood panels constructed into a massive canvas measuring 8’x12’. The artists finished each of their pieces during the event, showcasing their skills as artists, and interacting with onlookers. In addition, other artists brought collections of smaller pieces to display and sell to gallery attendees.

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While high attendance was desired, it was important to have people who came through to be more than just spectators. And with a gallery primarily focused on displaying street art, what better way to get people involved than to set up blank panels for attendees to try out their own graffiti skills. Armed with spray paint and their imagination, attendees were given the freedom to paint whatever they liked.

So, what was the result? Was the Douglas Ave underpass able to be transformed?

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The underpass was packed with people, and more importantly, those people were coming in and staying for a bit. They spray painted on the participatory panels, browsed through the art collections brought in for sale, and watched as the artists worked on their panels. There was no doubt that through the influx of light, music, and art, the Douglas Ave underpass was transformed. It went from a place that was avoided or passed through as quickly as possible, to a spot that was actively sought out, lingered in, and appreciated. The pigeon poop underpass became one of the coolest galleries in Downtown.

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Arts Council Open Forum Discussions

Please join the Arts Council for Open Forum discussions over the following weeks.

Artist Access Grant Application and Process 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017, 5:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.

Century II, 225 W. Douglas, Room 101B 

RSVP and share the invitation with other artists

Developing Arts Grant Application and Process 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017, 5:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. 

Century II, 225 W. Douglas, Room 101B 

RSVP and share the link

Cultural Funding Grant Application Process 

Monday, October 2, 2017, 5:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.

Century II, 225 W. Douglas, Room 101B

RSVP and share the link

If you have any questions, feel free to call or email Bernadette Bradshaw, bbradshaw@wichita.gov or call 316-303-8663. We hope to see you there!

2017-2018 Sculpture WalkAbout

The Arts Council is proud to announce the kickoff of the 9th Annual Sculpture WalkAbout! Inspired by past Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer and local arts supported Dora Timmerman-Bayer, the Sculpture WalkAbout is a yearlong exhibition that showcases the work of the region’s premier three-dimensional arts. The Sculpture WalkAbout is overseen by the Arts Council WalkAbout committee in conjunction with the City of Wichita and Sedgwick County, and with the generous support from private sponsors.

Ed Langston
Ed Langston was born in Pampas, Texas in 1947, moving to Wichita Kansas at age 5. He attended Wichita state University and majored in graphic design and then sculpture. Bernie’s Bird was inspired by Senator Bernie Sanders, and is a very stylized, conceptual version of a bird from one angle, and a flame from the opposite angle. It’s handcrafted from stainless steel, and uses Kevlar to hold the pieces together in place of the usual technique of welding the pieces together. The individual pieces of the work are cutout from a computer-controlled waterjet cutter. Langston has two installments on display.

Ed Langston, Bernie’s Bird. Stainless Steel & Kevlar, 4’ H x 3’W x 3’D.

Sam Shoffner
Sam Shoffner has been making and welding things for people since the ‘60s. He has designed and produced tools, handicap ramps and accessories, mountings and brackets, trailers, parade floats and so much more. Shoffner says his involvement with Art Aid led him to make several pieces for other fundraising projects and things for people in need to use. Shoffner’s steel installment, “Titan II” is on display Downtown.

Sam Shoffner, Titan II. Steel Parking Light Post, 20’H x 18’W x 18”D.

Marc Durfee
Marc Durfee, Art Director at the Derby Recreation Commission, was born in California, and received a Bachelor’s Degree in Ceramics from Southern Connecticut State University, and a Master’s of Fine Arts in Sculpture from Wichita State University. Durfee is a vintage luggage collector and enthusiast, who has always been interested in travel and the containment of history. He wonders about the people, places, and thing the luggage has seen and/or experienced. Durfee has three installments on display.

Marc Durfee, Bike-elisk. Welded Steel, 12’H x 3’W x 3’D.

Conrad Snider
Conrad Snider has worked toward developing an understanding of clay as a material. It’s his desire to limit the visual residue of his hand, allowing the clay to have a dominant voice. The scale of his work forces humans to look at how they relate to the world around them, and to question their sense of entitlement. When an object is the size of a human or larger, Snider says it requires the viewer to walk around it and take on the role as a temporary equal. Snider has two sculptures on display in Downtown Wichita, as well as public commissions for Wichita, Newton, Salina, Hesston, and Garnett.

Conrad Snider, Sunrise Bottle. Clay, 5’H x 3’W x 3’D.

Rollin Karg
Rollin Karg said it’s not easy to stick his head into a hot furnace and burn the hair off of his forehead, but it’s in his nature to take on challenges like this. He loves the feeling of accomplishment when he works hard on a piece, and it comes out looking right. For a truly one-of-a-kind piece, he’s created metal bases to house and enhance the glass that creates a unique and architectural feel. He has been working with glass for over 50 years, and says he’s still learning. Karg works out of Kechi, Kansas, and has received more than 40 awards for his work. Karg has four pieces on display.

Rollin Karg, Faith’s Flight. Stainless Steel & Glass, 12’9”H X 43”W x 52”D.

Greg Johnson
Greg Johnson is Wichita born and raised. He started a career
in autocollision repair in 1967, and started Auto Body Complex
in 1979, which still runs today. He found a void when things
began to level off with his business, so he turned to art and the
creation of sculpture. He believes creating and repairing are parallel with very different outcomes. Johnson has two pieces on display at the WalkAbout, but you can also catch his work around Wichita. The outdoor piece that he’s most fond of is “Mosquito Mohawk,” the giant dragonfly at Botanica’s Children’s Garden.

Greg Johnson, Chomamma. Steel, 6’H x 3’W x 3’D.

Check out more information, including a full list of sculptures and a map to navigate the Sculpture WalkAbout this Final Friday!

2017-2018 Arts Council Membership Campaign

Become an Arts Council Member & Take Pride in YOUR Local Arts! 

Join at the $250 level and your membership benefits include tickets to the Annual Art Awards, the first Thursday in November. View the membership levels below to learn more.


Be a SUPER HERO – $750

  • Membership offers emailed throughout the year (e.g. discount on CityArts Gifts in the Gallery, Xtravaganza tickets, etc.)
  • Annual Art Awards Dinner Tickets (4)
  • Recognition in Annual Art Awards Program
  • City Arts Digital Media Recognition
  • Arts Council Digital Media Recognition
  • “I Make Art Happen” (IMAH) Coffee Mug
  • IMAH Window Cling (or Sticker)

Learn more and become an Arts Council SUPER HERO


Be a HERO – $ 500

  • Annual Art Awards Dinner Tickets (4)
  • City Arts Digital Media Recognition
  • Arts Council Digital Media Recognition
  • IMAH Coffee Mug
  • IMAH Window Cling (or Sticker)

Learn more and become an Arts Council HERO


Be a CHAMPION – $250

  • Annual Art Awards Dinner Tickets (4)
  • Arts Council Digital Media Recognition
  • IMAH Coffee Mug
  • IMAH Window Cling (or Sticker)

Learn more and become an Arts Council CHAMPION


Be a PARTNER – $100 

  • Arts Council Digital Media Recognition
  • IMAH Coffee Mug
  • IMAH Window Cling (or Sticker)

Learn more and become an Arts Council PARTNER


Be an EVERYDAY HERO – $25

  • IMAH Window Cling (or Sticker)

Learn more and become an Arts Council EVERYDAY HERO


For additional information on higher giving levels and details on event partnership, please contact Laura Hadley at (316) 303-8654. We are happy to work with individuals or businesses to customize membership benefits.

Join us at the 48th annual Art Awards on Nov. 2

Celebrate the one-of-a-kind arts and culture that make the Wichita region memorable.

Nine Wichita area individuals, cultural organizations and businesses will be recognized for their work to further the growth and development of arts in the Wichita area during the 48th annual Art Awards dinner, held by the Arts Council and sponsored by Westar Energy, Culinary Catering, and the City of Wichita. The event will be held on Thursday, Nov. 2 at Century II Performing Arts and Convention Center. A complete list of award winners is included below.

The festivities will begin with a reception at 5:30 p.m.; dinner and a cash bar will follow. The awards ceremony will commence at 6:30 p.m. with performances by local musicians and artists throughout the evening.

When: November 2, 2017
Where: Century II Convention Hall, 225 W. Douglas

5:30 PM: Doors Open
6:00 PM: Dinner begins
6:30 PM: Awards program
8:30 PM: Event Concludes

Tickets are $60 per person or $750 for a reserved table of 10 (includes complimentary wine). Tickets are on sale at WichitaTIX.com or at the WichitaTIX box office in the Concert Hall entrance of Century II.


This Year’s Honorees:
Gordan W. Evans Award: Dr. Dennis & Ann Ross
Arts Organization: Northeast Area Strings Academy of Wichita (NASAW)
Arts Advocate – individual: Mary Sue Foster
Burton Pell Award: Dr. Jay Decker
Individual Artist: Rob Simon
Special Project: The Miro Project, Ulrich Museum
Arts Advocate Group or Business: Trish Higgins
Youth Recognition: Zoe Corrigan
Chris Cherches Award: Eisenhower Airport Project, City of Wichita Airport Authority

View a list of award descriptions below.

History of the Art Awards
The Wichita/Sedgwick County Arts and Humanities Council established the Annual Arts Council Awards in 1969 to recognize and honor those businesses, foundations and individuals who have displayed consistent and exemplary support of the arts and humanities in Wichita/Sedgwick County. These awards focus attention on the importance of the arts as they relate to the quality of life in Wichita/Sedgwick County and honor those who have made major creative achievements or significant contributions to cultural growth or development.

Award Categories

  • Gordon W. Evans Award – Given to a patron demonstrating outstanding leadership and special support for the arts.
  • Arts Organization – Given to a public, not-for-profit organization that presents or provides arts opportunities to the Wichita community and region.
  • Special Project – Given to a neighborhood, business, corporation or group that has provided support for a single event or project.
  • Arts Educator – Given to an individual who has devoted a career to teaching the arts in an educational environment.
  • Arts Advocate/Individual – Given to an individual or couple dedicated to furthering the cause of an art form or the arts in general through promotional, volunteer, administrative, legislative or professional efforts.
  • Arts Advocate/Group or Business– An organization or business dedicated to furthering the cause of an art form or the arts in general through promotional, volunteer, administrative, legislative or professional efforts.
  • Individual Artist – Given to an artist actively working in such categories as Choreography, Music Composition, Film/Video, Theatre, Interdisciplinary/ Performance Art, Two-Dimensional Visual Art and/or Three-Dimensional Visual Art, who has shown outstanding achievement.
  • Youth Recognition Award – Given to a high school and/or middle school student who has shown outstanding achievement and development in the arts.
  • Burton Pell Award – A new award created in memory of Mr. Pell a long time member and past president of the Arts Council. It will be given to an outstanding individual in music.

Past Art Award Winners

Arts Save Cities

The Arts Council believes that Arts Save Cities. We also believe: 

In Advocating for Public Art & Aesthetics
As one of the nation’s 50 largest cities, The Arts Council advocates for the importance of developing a public art program that ensures art and artists are as a part of the City’s public amenities design plans as the team of architects and engineers to enhance quality of life experiences throughout our city.

In Quality of Life Experiences for all Wichita Citizens
Quality of Life must incorporate the arts, beyond merely their aesthetic functions, in order to create a vibrant, inclusive and diverse community that fosters civic pride and participation, stimulates the economy, attracts tourists, revitalizes neighborhoods and addresses social problems. The arts must exist throughout civic structure – from youth programs and crime prevention to job training and race relations. The arts cross all quality of life boundaries to lift our community to a place of well-being for all citizens.

In Elected Offcials who Champion Arts and Culture in Wichita
The Arts Council will continue to be supportive of elected officials who foster the link between economic development and a thriving arts and cultural community. We will continue to identify appropriate times to speak at Council meetings in order to offer our recommendations and fulfill our responsibility documented in the current City of Wichita Cultural Plan to be the focal point on arts and cultural issues.

In Partnerships…

We offer our Arts Organization and Artist membership as an easy way to form partnerships and provide a united front – bringing arts/quality of life awareness and projects to everyone in our community.

…and Advocating for our Partners

As an Arts Organization or Artist member, be prepared to join a dedicated, passionate group of members who advocate for local arts organizations and artists and support special artist projects and events.

Learn more about Arts Council memberships and become a member today!

Sculpture WalkAbout

The inspiration for Wichita’s Sculpture WalkAbout can be attributed to past Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer and local arts supporter Dora Timmerman-Bayer. It is a yearlong sculpture exhibition of the region’s premier three-dimensional artists. The Arts Council’s WalkAbout committee, in cooperation with the City of Wichita and Sedgwick County, oversees the project with support from private sponsors.

Sponsors (2016 – 2017)

Fidelity Charities
Dr. Alan & Sharon Fearey
Project Beauty
TCK – The Trust Company of Kansas
Arts Council
City of Wichita
Sedgwick County

2016-2017 Pocket Book

Prairie Vistas Gallery

Feature: Prairie Vistas Gallery

John Morrison has lived in Wichita for more than 30 years, and has long admired its landscape. In the early 2000’s, Morrison started photographing the Kansas landscape. “Contrary to the opinion of some, the Kansas landscape is extremely varied, though it does not shout for attention,” he says.  In 2005 he opened Prairie Vistas Gallery to show off his work.

Prairie Vistas Gallery is located in a converted warehouse in Old Town. At any time, you’ll find 30-40 framed photos, dozens of unframed photos, and several portfolios. New pieces cycle into the gallery every month or so.

Morrison photographs primarily in panorama. He explains the process on his website:

“Each of my landscape panoramas is a composite of many overlapping exposures. With the camera mounted on a tripod, I manually set focus and exposure and use a cable release and mirror lock-up for the sharpest image possible. I then take seven to twelve vertical-format exposures that cover the scene, each exposure overlapping its neighbor by about one-third. Once the resulting individual files are “stitched” together on a computer, the resulting image file is almost identical to one produced by the traditional method of scanning a large-format transparency. ”

Prairie Vistas Gallery is located at 151 N. Rock Island, Suite D. It’s open Monday-Friday 9-6, and by appointment on evenings and weekends. To learn more about Prairie Vistas Gallery and John Morrison, visit http://www.prairievistas.com/.

 

Wichita Symphony Orchestra

Feature: Wichita Symphony Orchestra

During WWII there was a nationwide call to create symphony orchestras in cities and regional hubs across the US to bring cheer to the communities, and ultimately their returning troops. Prominent musicians and WSU partners in the Wichita Community met and founded the Wichita Symphony Orchestra in 1944.

The Wichita Symphony Orchestra is one of the oldest and most active arts organizations in Kansas. Conducted by Maestro Daniel Hege, the orchestra’s mission has been to enrich, educate, and entertain diverse audiences of all ages in our region through performances of orchestral music, thereby enhancing the vibrancy and vitality of Wichita.

The Wichita Symphony Orchestra calls their audience “culturally aware, musically curious.” They have eight classics weekend performances for those interested in hearing Classical greats, three Pops concerts for those who want to hear their favorite popular music with the power of a full Symphony Orchestra, two family concerts for those who want to introduce their children to the Symphony, and two free community concerts for the people of Wichita to join us in a celebration of music.

The Wichita Symphony Orchestra employs 90 of Wichita’s finest musicians and make music together for the Wichita Community. There is nothing more special than that.

Learn more about the Symphony at www.wichitasymphony.org.

Century II Concert Hall
225 W. Douglas Ave. Suite 207
Wichita, KS 67202
Hours: Monday – Friday 8:30am – 5:00pm (Closed Fridays during the summer)