By: Nancy Kalikow Maxwell
Shoppers at the Meadowbrook Shopping Center at 95th and Nall in Prairie Village will soon be enjoying two new sculptures, thanks to a collaboration between the Prairie Village Arts Council and R.H. Johnson Company. As part of their Rotating Outdoor Sculpture Program, these two organizations will be awarding two-year contracts to two artists to create and install art pieces at two sites just east of the Big Biscuit restaurant. In addition to these new sculptures, a water feature is being planned for the location.
According to the call for artwork proposal, the selected pieces should be “whimsical, kinetic, eye-catching, sound-making, and/or physically interactive.” The winning sculptures will not only capture the attention and engagement of the public, but should be suitable for “sitting, climbing, and interaction by children.”
“We are super excited about this project,” said Bonnie Limbird, Prairie Village City Council member and Arts Council Chair. “We have seen a
true renaissance of this area thanks to the Meadowbrook Park investment and renovation that happened five years ago. These new sculptures, along with the new gallery we are implementing at the Park Clubhouse, demonstrate the importance of the arts to Prairie Village."
The deadline for artists to submit images of their artwork is December 5.
To submit artwork and for more information, click here: https://bit.ly/MDBKpublicart.
by: Nancy Kalikow Maxwell
This inaugural show, the first to be held in the new Clubhouse Gallery at 9101 Nall Avenue, will highlight and showcase the works of diverse artists within our community.
Works that have been shown in previous Prairie Village Arts Council exhibition are not allowed. The deadline for submissions is December 3, 2021. To submit artwork or for more information, see https://bit.ly/DiversityShow.
by: Jessie Cartwright
Above the propelled motion and arcing energy of skateboarders, a tall assemblage of found objects spin and turn in the wind with similar physics. At closer view, these colorful objects reveal familiar Prairie Village street signs, skateboard decks, axles and wheels, and layered traffic sign fragments. The 22 foot tall Harmon Skate Park Sculpture, a.k.a. the Windmill sculpture, was designed and constructed by Rhett Johnson in 2005.
Curious about Rhett’s creative process, I spoke with Rhett who initially explored the Harmon Skate Park environment where he envisioned a tall, wind-driven sculpture with motion integral to the design. Rhett chose an old Gulf gas station signpost, divided at the top like the letter “Y”, to support two moving structures, each with a central axel. Next, Rhett strategically angled Prairie Village street signs tipped with skateboard decks on the top of each section to create the rotor blades. Rhett described these sections as “two levels of motion, two different directions, at two different speeds,” a remarkable kinetic engineering feat. Rhett added sign sections that move like a wind vane, and rows of wheels along the curve of the signpost.
Rhett also explained the history behind the sculpture commission from the Prairie Village Municipal Foundation, initiated by Kathy Peterson at his farm/studio. After the 2001 City Council skate park proposal, an Ad Hoc Committee was formed to help raise funds. Parents and local, as well as metro students, embarked on an arduous, two-year grassroots fundraising campaign.
Avid PV skateboarders Jake Shepard and Andy Peterson, among the hard-working fundraisers that also included Kathy Peterson, ultimately raised over $60,000. Kathy recalled, “These kids did not give up. They learned so much about teamwork, perseverance, purpose, and life in the process.” Jake’s terminal illness did not prevent him from fundraising, though he would not see the finished skate park. Rhett tailored a compartment for a time capsule in the signpost that included Jake’s shirt and other contents.
Rhett characterizes his sculptures as “bespoke” or custom made, which he further articulates as “old yet new, unique but commonplace, found and fabricated, evocative and nostalgic, kinetic and static, retro and modern.” To see all the hallmarks of Rhett’s unique, self-taught style, you can view his impressive resume of public sculptures, and solo or group exhibitions at RhettJohnson.com.
The Harmon Skate Park recently opened after a summer of renovation that included the temporary removal of the Skate Park Sculpture. In the final concept design, the Harmon Skate Park Sculpture was reinstalled in a special memorial area of the new skate park.