Kansas City's public art program racks up another honor

For the fifth time in a decade, a Kansas City public artwork has been singled out in the “Public Art in Review” section of Art in America magazine’s annual guide to museums, galleries and artists.

This year the distinction goes to Omaha artist Jun Kaneko’s “Water Plaza” installation on the south side of the new Bartle Hall ballroom.

The artwork, which features seven ceramic sculptures on zigzag-patterned concrete and an interior mural, is one of 21 public artworks from across the country to be featured in the August 2008 guide.

Kaneko’s million-dollar project was commissioned under the city’s 1 percent for art program, which sets aside 1 percent of the public costs of civic building construction for art.

“This tribute represents Kansas City standing in the national public art landscape, and reaffirms the significance of the arts in our region,” said Porter Arneill, Kansas City’s public art administrator.

In 2001, the publication recognized Kansas City artist Nate Fors’ “Toss” sculpture of painted inner tubes that appeared in the 2000 Avenue of the Arts. Two years later, the list included “Pulse,” a kinetic light and sound work created for the city’s George E. Wolf public parking facility by Kansas City artist James Woodfill and the El Dorado Inc. architects group.

Other Kansas City artworks that have been featured over the years include Joel Shapiro’s set of three blocky abstract sculptures in the median of Cookingham Drive at Kansas City International Airport and Kristin Jones and Andrew Ginzel’s floor design for KCI. All four projects were commissioned under Kansas City’s 1 percent for art program.