In coming months, an undulating wall of barnacles will enliven a patch of green space along Truman Road.
It’s an artwork commissioned under Kansas City’s 1-percent for art program from award-winning Kansas City designers Rie Egawa and Burgess Zbryk, and scheduled to be installed in late fall.
The program, which sets aside for art 1-percent of the public costs of civic building construction, will pay for the $135,000 “Barnacles” project from the construction budget of three city parking garages in the Power & Light District.
The curving 9-by-80-foot artwork will feature hundreds of abstracted barnacle forms with bright blue centers mounted on 16 grid-like frameworks supported by steel posts.
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It will be in the city-owned green space north of Truman Road between Walnut and Main Streets.
The barnacle elements will be fabricated of spun steel by United Metal Spinning of Kansas City, and powder-coated with white pigment by RMF Powder Coating Services in Grandview.
Zbryk will fabricate the rest of the elements and assemble the 16 panels in the couple’s studio in the Crossroads Art District.
The work was inspired, Zbryk said, by their passion for aquariums, and the half dozen tanks they maintain in their home.
“We’re always looking and reading about fish,” he said.
In her research into barnacles, Egawa learned that “Charles Darwin studied barnacles for many years before he wrote “’The Origin of the Species.’”
And she liked the idea of a piece that alluded to “nature taking over, instead of us taking over nature.”
Although inspired by nature, the piece is first and foremost an abstraction, continuing the couple’s longstanding use of the simplified geometric forms of modern art.
Disks of translucent blue polycarbonate, installed in the center of each barnacle form, will add an eye catching—and highly unnatural —touch of whimsy.
“We want people to look at it and smile,” Zbryk said.