Washington Square Park, a wedge of grass and trees east of Union Station and north of Crown Center, is high on the list of places many Kansas Citians have driven past frequently and never set foot in.
An inaugural public art program hopes to change that.
Art in the Square, sponsored by the city, is bringing five new works by local artists into the park next week. They will remain on view through Dec. 21.
Public art administrator Elizabeth Bowman said she hopes Art in the Square will become an annual event. The plan is to move it to a different park each year.
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Artists were selected based on proposals they submitted for works created specifically for the site.
“It’s a gorgeous park, and the art is going to be really neat,” Bowman said.
One work, “Oculus,” by Denise DiPiazzo, is a 10-foot-wide open sphere that visitors can walk inside. Lenses, mirrors and magnifying glasses provide new perspectives on various vantage points.
“On September 27 there is a full lunar eclipse, and you’ll be able to see it through there,” Bowman said.
Kati Toivanen created “Flowering Wall,” a digital collage that adds flowers and color to the mostly green landscape.
A whimsical aluminum chandelier by Jake Balcom called “Modern Respite” will be suspended from a tree over visitors’ heads.
“Moon Garden,” by William Vannerson, is a static sculpture that appears to be lush and growing, a thought-provoking look at the relationship between nature and art.
Destined to be a crowd-pleaser, “Tree Huggers,” by Rie Egawa, wraps tree trunks in sculptural arms that have the vibrancy and stylization of anime.
Bowman said Art in the Square fills the void left by the Avenue of the Arts program, which used to mount artworks along a specific street or boulevard.
“We thought instead of limiting the art to one street, we could put it in a park to draw more people into our beautiful parks,” she said.
Washington Square Park is a highly visible location destined to draw more visitors in the near future because the streetcar line will end there.
The Kansas City Marathon begins in the park, so more than 11,000 runners will see the artworks in October. Bowman expects there will be a lot of spillover traffic from holiday events at Crown Center as well.
Opening next week
Art in the Square debuts with an opening reception from 5:30 to 7 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 10, at Washington Square Park. The exhibit is free and will run through Dec. 21. For more, go to kcmo.gov/art.