By Kevin Collison
Several Crossroads property owners are creating a new venue for public art in downtown, designating an alley that runs behind some prominent galleries as “Sculpture Alley” and commissioning works to display there.
“It’s a good way in which neighbors can work together to use a public space for public art,” said Suzie Aron of Aron Real Estate. “On every level, it’s a win-win for young artists, the community and property owners.”
Sculpture Alley splits the block bound by Wyandotte and Baltimore, from 19th Street to Southwest Boulevard. It’s behind the buildings housing the Weinberger Fine Art gallery, the Blue Gallery and ArtsKC.
In addition to Aron, the others involved are Zach Bickel, Jeff Owens, Justin Jin, Austin Walsh, Cindy Augustine and Paul Mattli.
They’ve raised money to light the alley, and have funded the commission, fabrication and installation of two sculptures by students at the Kansas City Art Institute.
“The Crossroads is known for being part of downtown, but we’re unique as a neighborhood community,” Bickel said. “Our roots are centered on the arts.
“What better way to beautify these alleyways than with art, and what better art media than sculptures? That’s why we decided to make it a sculpture alley.”
The alley project has been in discussion for about a year. The patrons of Sculpture Alley approached Jarrett Mellenbruch, an adjunct professor of sculpture at the Art Institute, to help select the artists for the first works.
Aron already owns a work by Mellenbruch, “Tree in the Style of Matisse,” that’s located near the southwest end of the alley and will serve as an anchor for the project.
“It’s a great project,” Mellenbruch said. “Any chance to expose the public to more artwork in the public realm is a good thing.”
Works by Nick Mckenna and Amanda Dee were chosen to debut the endeavor.
The artists are receiving a $500 honorarium for their work and the backers of Sculpture Alley are paying for their installation and protection. The artists also will continue to own their works.
“We’ll see whether we include them as permanent pieces,” Aron said. “This is step one.”
The first sculptures are expected to be installed by late spring.
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