By Joe Jarosz
July 9, 2014
KANSAS CITY, Missouri – As work continues on the Kansas City Police Department’s new East Patrol Campus, city officials just agreed to another addition to the patrol division building.
At a recent Planning, Zoning and Economic Development Committee meeting as well as a City Council meeting, council members approved the authorization of $425,000 for an agreement between artist David Dahlquist, of Des Moines, Iowa, and the city for public art.
Porter Arneill, director/public art administrator for the Architecture Division/Municipal Art Commission, explained a city legislation passed in the 1986 mandating one percent of the construction budget of a new or renovated city building be set aside for art. Kansas City is one of more than 400 municipalities in the United States with such a program.
“Kansas City has been at the forefront of public art in our country,” Arneill said. “If we weren’t the first, we were one of the first cities in the Midwest that passed legislation for public art.”
As soon as Dahlquist signs the contract, he’ll go into a design and development phase and that should provide him with the resources to visit Kansas City for the community integration portion. Arneill described Dahlquist’s preliminary rendering as a gateway to the patrol station.
“He recognized that the site is going into a community that’s very sensitive about what’s happened and wanted to create an opportunity to, one, add a presence in the community that the community can physically interact with,” Arneill said. “Two, he plans to engage Arts Tech, which is a terrific local arts program and have artists interact at the community level and put their imprint onto tiles which would be integrated onto the portal of the gateway going to the patrol station.”
The Patrol Station has been the focus because, Arneill said, that’s where a majority of the public interacts with officers. The gateway would be in the front, as people enter the station. Arneill said part of the requirement was original artwork and design, which Dahlquist submitted. The next phase is the design and development phase, where the artists will engage the community for input.
“This design will be refined and altered slightly to adapt to the site better,” Arneill said to the committee.
After the agreement was approved, the committee discussed why a local artist wasn’t selected for the project. Arneill said the opportunity to compete for the project was open to all artists in Kansas City, as well as the United States. The Art Commission received bids from 61 U.S. artists, of which only one was from Kansas City. He said the commission typically receives more local bidders.
“This isn’t a gallery situation that’s integrated with the facility and requires the artists to work with the architects and engineers,” Arneill said. “Frankly, a lot of artists are not interested in that level of activity.”
Third District Councilwoman Melba Curls worried how engaged the community will be during this process since Dahlquist is from out-of-state. She said the neighborhood needs to be engaged for this process.
“Part of the reason he was selected is because he’s familiar with Kansas City as he is here on a fairly regular basis with his work,” Arneill said. “The other reason is because he has an expertise in engaging communities. He has a facility through his business that engages people through community projects. And frankly, he’s humble enough to know he’s not from Kansas City and therefore will need help [from the community].”
At the most recent council meeting, councilman Scott Taylor said the artwork is very interesting and outstanding at the same time. However, he added he’s looking forward to the inclusion of the community the art should bring forth.
“The community can add tiles into the gateway artwork,” Taylor said. “We’ve found that at the South Patrol [Division station] with the inclusion of its community room, it helped build a stronger relationship with its community. We believe this artwork will strengthen the community relationship between the residents and East Patrol.”