What I Want: More Public Art

Jul 25, 2013 by

Historic Jazz District
Tuesday night, as part of the Main Street Missouri Conference, I had the opportunity to explore Kansas City’s  Historic 18th & Vine District.  One of the primary things that caught my attention was all of the public art.  There was even a vacant/abandoned building that had been painted to look like store fronts.  In driving all around Kansas City, we have seen so many murals and other forms of public art that just have a way of making you smile.
Today, I had the opportunity to take a 3+ hour walking tour of Downtown Kansas City (South).  I really enjoyed hearing about how their community improvement district operates, and the recent attraction and renovation projects.  There were also pops of art all over the place.
Downtown Kansas City

Downtown Kansas City

What I Want?  More public art in Downtown JCMO.  I had a blast helping with the mural on McCarty as part of Serve Jefferson City.  I love the new mural in Old Munichburg.  But, I’d like to see more public art in Downtown JCMO.
There are a few pops of art in Downtown, but you really have to look.
Art Bazaar | JCMO

Back Exit of the Art Bazaar Building | JCMO

Specifically? My idea? We should put a mural here:
Saffees on High Street | JCMO

Saffees on High Street

What kind of art?  I think our most famous piece must be Thomas Hart Benton’s A Social History of the State of Missouri in the House Lounge in the State Capitol Building.  The mural was completed in 1936.
I think it would be fabulous to find an artist who could do a continuation of the mural — Missouri’s more recent social history — while maintaining some classic aspects of there Benton mural: people focused (with rich, vibrant colors).  All of our residents and art lovers, as well as the school groups and tourists would be able to explore the Capitol complex,and then enjoy a beautiful stroll through our Downtown to see this mural.  I would love to see that mural as I walk to my favorite lunch spots in Downtown.  Even better, I could grab my lunch to go, sit on a bench to enjoy a bite to eat and take in the beautiful mural.
For you detail people and historians:  this space is actually called “The High Street Mall.”
High Street Mall
While I think this would be a good location, I’m sure there will be differences of opinion.  There are several parking lots along McCarty with huge retaining walls that I think could use a good mural.  Still, I know a mural is a huge undertaking.
I think there are things we could do now to get the ball rolling.  I really like Columbia’s Traffic Box Art.   I think many cities have found an increase in public art creates a better public perception of support for the arts in your community and thereby decreases the incidence of graffiti — an issue with which we are currently struggling.

How can we make this happen, JCMO?

-Stephanie

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