By David Markham
Six area artists who are seeking to create artwork for an “Art Nine” disc golf course scheduled to open in Shawnee Mission Park in 2024 will have their design concepts on display for public input from Aug. 7 to 21.
The art proposals will be displayed online at JCPRD.com/1913/Art-Nine-Disc-Golf-Course, as well as in-person at the Johnson County Arts and Heritage Center, 8788 Metcalf Ave., Overland Park, and at the JCPRD Administration Building near the Shawnee Mission Park’s 7900 Renner Road entrance.
“The Art Nine Disc Golf Course is designed to be family friendly and beginner friendly,” said Superintendent of Culture Susan Mong. “The nine-hole course was designed for the tee and basket to be closer in distance to allow beginners or young players more success early. Typical disc golf fairway distance is 300 feet whereas this course will offer shorter distances. With nine total sculptures, placement will occur in proximity to each of the nine tees.”
In mid-April, JCPRD’s Public Art Committee sent out a request for qualifications from area artists residing within 250 miles of Kansas City.
A total of 31 artists submitted qualifications by the June 8 deadline. An Art Selection Committee for this project, which includes several disc golf advocates, has since narrowed this to six artists, and will hear proposals from those artists during an early August meeting. Finalists were encouraged to find inspiration for their designs by spending time in Shawnee Mission Park and visiting with JCPRD staff.
“The six finalists will make their presentations to the Public Art Selection Committee on Aug. 3,” Mong said. “Those designs will be shared with the community for public input for a two-week period beginning Aug. 7. The final decision will be made on Aug. 22. The Art Selection Committee is the body that will recommend the winning artists for final approval by the JCPRD board, but the input from the community is very important and will factor into how the final decision is made.”
The goal of the selection committee and the public input process is to narrow the field further to three artists who will each create art for three of the Art Nine holes, with nine in total.
“This is a unique project and we wanted to open this opportunity up to more than just one artist,” Mong explained. “We decided three artists with a budget of $42,000 each to design sculptures would be more appealing to artists. It was a good middle ground, allowing more artists to unleash their creativity but also achieving some economies of scale from a project management perspective.”
The winning artists will then enter into contract with JCPRD, finalize engineering and design details, and begin fabrication, with final installation expected in the third quarter of 2024.
The plan is for the art to serve as wayfinding elements and be adjacent in some way to the tee of each of the nine holes. Once artists and designs are selected, the art selection committee will decide the locations of each sculpture considering site lines, site grade, and tee locations.
In mid-2022, JCPRD officials announced plans to convert the existing 18-hole disc golf course in Shawnee Mission Park to four sets of nine holes each. Currently, the park’s 18-hole course begins with three holes in the Walnut Grove area, and the remainder of the course is located inside the loop to the north created by West 79th Street and West 80th Terrace. The new plan will create two sets of nine-hole courses south of the loop, and two sets to the north within the loop. Courses to the south would include the Art Nine, which will be located in the Walnut Grove area, incorporate public art, and feature shorter fairways, and The “Ridge” Nine to the east with more typical longer fairways.
As permanent art, the artwork must be fabricated of highly durable, low-maintenance materials that can withstand Kansas weather with a life expectancy of 30 or more years.
Goals for the Art Nine project include: encouraging the discovery of disc golf as a fun, healthy, and relatively inexpensive pastime for individuals and families; using art to highlight and celebrate the natural environment within Shawnee Mission Park including native flora, fauna, animals, birds, and unique features of the park; creating whimsical art sculptures that can be enjoyed by disc golfers and park patrons; and celebrating the role that art and artists play in the local community and economy.
“This was an idea that was brought forward by a member of the community, Clifton Alexander, an avid disc golfer who loves the sport, loves public art, and thought this was a great vision for JCPRD to create a family-friendly course that also offered this unique destination experience with public art incorporated into the course,” Mong said.
This project is partially funded through a SLFRF (State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds) Grant.