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‘Red’ is running in Roeland Park, saluting city and former school

On May 22, Roeland Park welcomed a Jorge Blanco sculpture, “See Red Run!” to R Park. It was financed solely by private donations.
On May 22, Roeland Park welcomed a Jorge Blanco sculpture, “See Red Run!” to R Park. It was financed solely by private donations. Courtesy photo

A long-awaited sculpture by Jorge Blanco has been installed in R Park, marking the culmination of a citizen-led project that brings a bit of whimsy to Roeland Park while saluting both the city and the school that once stood in the park.

“See Red Run!” is a colorful sculpture, costing nearly $63,000, that was financed entirely by private donations.

The piece depicts a 6-foot red runner, with three yellow rings, perched on two 9-foot poles. The three Rs on the rings refer to the familiar reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic, a tribute to the teachers and students of the former Roeland Park Elementary School. The runner symbolizes the progress that Roeland Park has made since it was incorporated in 1951.

Roeland Park resident Judy Hyde won the naming contest for the sculpture. “See Red Run!” is reminiscent of the “Dick and Jane” book series used by educators decades ago.

“Roeland Park is a great community because of the passion residents have for seeing an opportunity and making it a reality,” City Administrator Keith Moody said.

Blanco created the work from his home in Sarasota, Fla., and the seven sculpture pieces arrived by truck the morning of May 22. The artist was in Roeland Park that day to oversee the installation.

“Two years ago an art-loving group of citizens in Roeland Park were so inspired by Jorge Blanco’s sculptures in Leawood that they wrote a proposal to bring a privately funded Jorge Blanco sculpture to R Park as a gift to the city,” said Gretchen Davis, of the Citizens Sculpture Initiative for R Park. “These citizens commissioned Jorge Blanco to design a site-specific piece for R Park.”

Fund-raising began in March 2018 and was completed in November. Donations came from more than 300 individuals and businesses, five family foundations, the Barton P. and Mary D. Cohen Charitable Trust and in-kind services from an engineer and construction contractor.

On June 29, the community is invited to a “Dedication Celebration” from noon to 3 p.m. at R Park, 5535 Juniper Drive, with art projects for the kids and a performance by “Mr. Stinky Feet,” Jim Cosgrove. The dedication ceremony will begin at 1:30 p.m.

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