You may not see it yet, but soon you won’t be able to miss it.
Currently hidden underneath the Douglas Street bridge, a 150-foot-long floating sculpture on the Arkansas River will be publicly unveiled this Final Friday.
The sculpture, a DNA-shaped mass of PVC pipes, colorful pool noodles and drainage pipes, will be on the river between Douglas and Waterman for the next three months.
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“It’s pretty robust,” said Marc Durfee, a local artist who collaborated on the piece. “We’ve kind of considered just about everything. Perhaps we didn’t consider an iceberg ... but Mike (Miller) has really engineered the heck out of that thing.”
Durfee and another local sculptor, Mike Miller, collaborated on “DNA.”
It was funded through an Up the Ambition grant from the Wichita Community Foundation and is part of a program called ArkArt, which is spearheaded by “boomerang Wichitan” Ty Tabing, who recently moved back to Wichita after a career in Chicago downtown development.
Tabing’s aim, he said, is to draw attention to what he considers the “great underutilized resource in Wichita.”
“That’s, of course, the river downtown,” Tabing said. “We want to have people begin to think about the possibilities for the river.”
Similar floating art installations have been well-received in other cities.
“Normally I’m welding things or working with natural objects, a lot of different processes – this was just inventing a whole new thing,” Miller said. “This was brand-new territory.”
Throughout the piece’s three-month development process, Miller and Durfee constantly adapted to new problems with the piece – one end was too heavy or one end wasn’t secured together enough.
200 pool noodles
100+ PVC pipes
400 feet of drainage pipe
Then, of course, came the problem of taking this 150-foot-long piece from Miller’s Towanda studio to downtown Wichita. Since that was deemed impossible, the two – and an army of helpful friends – have been assembling the piece on-site for the last few days.
The piece will float in the center of the Arkansas River. Signs will be placed on the sides of the river to explain the piece and provide a bit of an artist’s statement, Tabing said.
Tabing hopes “DNA” won’t be the last time a floating sculpture is installed in the Arkansas River – there are preliminary plans for another piece to be created next spring or summer if all goes well, he said.
“This first attempt is really testing the concept – better understanding the scale, water currents and winds,” Tabing said. “It’s pretty challenging to do a project like this in that setting, but it’s my hope this project becomes something we can do again.”
Final Friday reception for “DNA” sculpture
When: 5-9 p.m. Friday
Where: Hyatt Regency Wichita, 400 W. Waterman (on the outdoor deck)
What: Public unveiling of Mike Miller and Marc Durfee’s “DNA” sculpture, which will float on the Arkansas River for the next three months.