To write or not to write…
It’s not necessarily that I feel compelled to write something about the art scene in Topeka. I am not usually one to feed the trolls. But I do think we are past due for a comprehensive post about how Topeka did all of this … without government money.
I honestly don’t even know where to start with this. I suppose I could start with ArtsConnect. A privately funded organization dedicated to promoting the arts and broadening the understanding of how the arts enhance Topeka’s quality of life. It may pique the interest of some if I explained that ArtsConnect is run by a volunteer board and one employee. ArtsConnect raises funds through donations from large corporations and donors in town. It would also be interesting to write that this single-employee organization created First Friday Art Walks in Topeka; an event that brings thousands out to explore the cities many artists and shops. ArtsConnect also helped facilitate the movement of painting murals all over town that are painted by private individuals using paint and ladders bought with private dollars.
Or I could start with NOTO, which is one of the great new art neighborhoods in the Midwest. I could write something about how it didn’t exist six years ago, until a survey found that Topekans wanted an art district. That after the survey, private groups began buying buildings and renovating them and a private organization in Heartland Visioning took the lead to develop and help brand the location as an arts haven. Following this, artists’ of all sorts bought and rented buildings to house their shops and galleries. Heading to NOTO on a First Friday is now the 2nd most important rite of passage possible with only a baby being born during a wedding in front of Yeldarb Gallary being more significant.
What about Downtown Kansas Avenue? Yeah, there’s a lot of private art there as well. That’s the story of the private businesses pulling together and raising $3.8 million on their own to design and build pockets parks all along both sides of the street. Most of those pocket parks have art pieces done by local artists’ and they are free to view. These same private donors are leading a renaissance on Downtown Kansas Avenue with art as the focal point.
The Mulvane Art Museum and ArtLab at Washburn University is another pillar of the arts community in Topeka. This museum, which brings art exhibits from all over the world, is only possible because of the private organizations and businesses that support it.
I guess, if I am really going to do this and write a blog about Topeka being an art city, I could also add in the Great Mural Wall in Chesney Park. This mural stretches 660 feet and the wall itself houses a now defunct 10 million gallon water storage reservoir. Private individuals were tired of seeing the white washed wall so they raised $12,000 to start the mural. Since then, they have privately completed 540 ft to the tune of $108,000. There are 120 ft more to go and the Chesney Park Neighborhood Improvement Association is spearheading the private fundraising effort for the last $24,000.
Shoot, what about Topeka Civic Theatre and Helen Hocker Theatre, Topeka Performing Arts Center, Topeka Art Guild, Topeka Symphony Orchestra, Aaron Douglas Art Park, The Kansas Statehouse, and all other galleries and shops in town? They too are all great examples of private organizations creating the art culture in Topeka.
I actually think I just talked myself out of writing about art altogether. It’s too large a subject. There are simply too many examples of private art throughout #TopCity. I guess another reason not to write about art in Topeka is because Topekans already know what a great art city they have. Do they really need me to tell them that we have some of the most giving donors to the arts in the Midwest and some of the most creative artists’ around that call Topeka home?
Maybe I should write a blog about quotes; that could be more interesting. I have always been fascinated with the term “ignorance is bliss.” The idea that if you do not know about something you are somehow better off. I have always wondered if that is truly the case and if there are some people the quote doesn’t pertain to. I would imagine there are and those particular people would be better off not commenting at all. It could make them look silly.
On second thought, maybe I won’t write a blog at all. Maybe I will go back to marketing this great city as an #ArtCity and let the art speak for itself.