The Arts, Kansas City
Organizations around town (with the help of a professional sculpture who provided the cow shape) were instructed to elaborately adorn a cow sculpture to be sold for charity. The results are a fascinating array of beautiful and kitschy cows which now reside all over Kansas City. Most are located at businesses and schools. Some area easily acessible like this one at the Kansas City Zoo. I was very excited when I saw this one in person, since until that time I had only seen the coffee table book about the project. I should have bought the book because some of the cows are really stunning.
Fondest memory: website: http://kansascity.cowparade.net/ If you visit the website you will notice that most of the cows have "punny" names.
Favorite thing: This spooky and strange sculpture captivated my husband one night. So we made plans to go back the next night and photograph these ghastly fellows who live on the lawn of the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art.
Favorite thing: These sculptures have caused a lot of bickering amongst Kansas City's residents. I happen to love them, but some people, like my cousin Olivia think they are an abomination. The Shuttlcock sculptures are found on the lawn of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art downtown.
This was a Depression-era commission, unveiled in 1934. Jackson County Missouri is named after President Andrew Jackson, the powerful and manipulative Democrat who dominated the Federal Republic in the 1830s. The sculpture was commissioned by the Democratic politicians who were powerful and manipulative in the Jackson County of the 1930s.
The artist was Charles Keck (1875-1951), an American pupil of Saint-Gaudens who was much in demand in the period of the 1920s and 30s for his monumental and representative work.
James Pendergast (1856-1911) established a political "machine" that dominated Kansas City politics for half a century. He was the oldest of four brothers each of whom was involved in running the city from the 1890s through the end of the 1930s. And when I say that they ran the city, I also mean that they controlled elections and determined which businesses in the city would succeed or fail.
The youngest Pendergast brother, Tom, gave a humble haberdasher named Harry Truman his first breaks in local politics in the 1920s. Pendergast was ultimately brought down by charges of income tax evasion in 1939.
This statue of James sits at Clark Point, at 8th and Jefferson in the downtown freeway loop, overlooking the West Bottoms. (It is close to the Lewis & Clark memorial, but you could overlook it if you weren't looking for it.) The memorial was commissioned by the city in the 1920s, and executed by well-known artist Frederick C. Hibbard. (Hibbard had studied with Lorado Taft in Chicago.)
Favorite thing: "Boss" James Pendergast apparently had a number of redeeming qualities. He was said to be very fond of immigrants and children. This "child" is part of the sculptural grouping of the Pendergast memorial. There's no explanation, but it could be a depiction of an orphan child - Pendergast is reported to have donated some of his ill-gotten gains to orphanages throughout the Kansas City area.
Ilus Davis (1917-1996) was mayor of Kansas City through the difficult 1960s, including the time of the terrible riots of 1968 (following ML King's assassination) when half a dozen people were killed. But his period in office was marked by constructive growth for the city, as he helped lay the foundations for the development of Kansas City International Airport in the northland, and the Harry Truman Sports Complex east of the Blue River.
His statue stands appropriate in front of City Hall downtown (414 E. 12th Street). The work of California artist Bruce Wolf, the statue is on a four foot pedestal, and stands nine feet tall! (It was unveiled in 2003.)
At first glance, you might think it's a little odd to see a statue of the great Republican Abraham Lincoln at Kansas City's monumental City Hall, a bastion of the machine politics of the Democratic Party. And you might think that at your second glance as well!
Indeed, it was a private individual, a retired Insurance executive named Orville Anderson who personally spearheaded a fundraising campaign which collected over $140,000 to pay for the commission and installation of this traditional and representational work. The sculpture, dedicated in 1986, is the work of American artist Lorezno Ghiglieri:
In 1804, Merriweather Lewis and William Clark, along with their expedition, passed this point overlooking the junction of the Missouri and Kansas Rivers on the continental expedition.
To commemorate the bicentennial of their journal, the city commissioned this new piece. It's by contemporary (traditional) sculptor Eugene Daub, and depicts Lewis & Clark, Sakakawea, the faithful dog Seaman, and York, Clark's slave (not seen in this view.) The Lewis and Clark memorial is in Case Park, at 8th and Jefferson in the northwest corner of the downtown "Freeway Loop."
In the 1990s Kansas City's convention center, Bartle Hall, was expanded southward across the I-670 freeway. An innovative use of steel cables helps to secure the section of the building which extends over the highway lanes. As a result of a new city mandate (1% for art), there was a considerable amount of money in the budget to be spent on artworks associated with the project. Hence the prominent sculptures atop the structural pylon which locals affectionately (?) refer to as "hair curler art."
The work was created by a prominent New York based artist, R.M. Fischer. (His work can also be seen at Battery Park City in lower Manhattan.) Although it is hard to tell from a distance, the pylons are 230 feet high, and the individual sculptural units each the height of a medium-sized tree - 30 to 40 feet. They were put in place by helicopter. Certainly, the city does not need to worry about the possibility of vandalism for these public sculptures.
(It's interesting how in this view the pylons "echo" the form of the nearby Kansas City Power & Light Building. Although from this angle they appear to be the same height, the KCP & L structure is acutally twice as tall.)
Favorite thing: One of the things that makes Kansas City the hip center of the Midwest is the Kansas City Art Institute. It keeps a lot of good, talented people in town, and educates new generations of painters and potters, glassmakers and metalworkers. The KCAI is located in a very artsy neighborhood, halfway between the Nelson-Atkins and the Kemper Musuems. The campus has taken over several large houses, and there are new buildings as well. This interesting mansion - at 4340 Oak - houses the administration and admissions offices.