A striking and dynamic form based on the Kansas sunflower has been chosen as the inaugural site-specific public art piece to be placed in a Johnson County Park and Recreation District park.
“Gateway” by Amie Jacobsen Art and Design was recently selected by an art selection committee made up of artists and community members from among 146 concept submissions, and was approved by the Johnson County Board of Park and Recreation Commissioners during its Nov. 16 meeting. It is anticipated the permanent piece will be installed at Meadowbrook Park in the summer of 2022, with an opening reception and artist meet-and-greet scheduled as part of the ribbon cutting.
“This particular piece most embodied the overall goals for this project and best captured the spirit of Meadowbrook,” Superintendent Susan Mong said. “Amie Jacobsen, the artist, also really took great effort to embed the history of this site into the design. The art selection committee felt this was a way to connect our visitors to this place in a meaningful way. We are also thrilled that this first art installation features a local artist.”
It is anticipated that the sculptural piece will also enhance visitors’ experience of Meadowbrook Park.
“This new artwork will add a sense of beauty, curiosity, and discovery and help our community connect to this park in a new way,” Mong said. “I also hope it inspires artists of all ages right here in Kansas City. Creativity and design are key assets that only strengthen our community and help create a greater sense of place.”
Standing nearly 12 feet tall, “Gateway” will feature multiple brightly-colored and shaped petals made of cast glass and steel, and will glow in the sunlight as well as with lighting at night. The center of the flower creates an archway that beckons visitors to walk under the arch. Inside the arch, illustrated panels stretch from the floor up the interior sides, creating a tapestry that represents the history of the area of Meadowbrook Park and Prairie Village as a whole. Behind and above the illustrated panels, the rest of the archway will be covered with mirror-polished stainless steel which will reflect the visitors below. This represents the present and future of the community, reflecting back at the viewer.
Accessibility, site lines, park use, and the artist’s vision are key factors that will inform the final location selection for the artwork in Meadowbrook Park, Mong added. This decision is currently being refined in partnership with the artist and should be finalized soon.
JCPRD launched the Public Art Program in 2019 to activate its park spaces in a new way, and with input from the public, community partners, and local artists, completed a Public Art Master Plan earlier this year to serve as a road map for the next five years. With the selection of the artwork for Meadowbrook Park complete, three new public art projects are being launched in 2022 including a mural project at Okun Fieldhouse at Mid-America West Sports Complex, an art and natural resource residency, and a temporary art project at the front entrance of Theatre in the Park’s outdoor complex in Shawnee Mission Park.
“It is our hope to contribute to the recovery and rise of the local arts community and create opportunities to engage local artists in various ways,” Mong said. “Watch our website for more details at: JCPRD.com/1308/Public-Art-Program.”
The Parks and Recreation Foundation of Johnson County will play a crucial role in the fulfillment of JCPRD’s Public Art Program through the procurement of grants and donations. The AT&T Foundation is one of the first in support of the program and the Meadowbrook Park project with a recent award of $10,000. The foundation continues to seek support for future projects through corporate and private funders. Those interested in becoming involved with public art initiatives are encouraged to contact Development Director Erika Seward at 913-826-3448 or [email protected].