A reader who recently drove past Sedgwick County Park saw a new sign that says “ART PARK” and asked Have You Heard? what it’s about.
The sign is for an outdoor art installation in the works at the west-side park and is not related to the east-side Art Park, which is a collection of mostly art-related businesses geared toward children on 29th Street between Woodlawn and Rock Road.
“I’m nauseous, honestly,” says Charles Baughman, who owns the 12-year-old business with his wife, Kate Pepper.
“It was promised to us last February that the name would be changed,” Pepper says. “As far as we’re concerned, that’s our intellectual property.”
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Baughman says they’ve “tried to handle this quietly for six months.”
Pepper says she’s been talking with John D’Angelo, the city’s manager of the division of arts and cultural services.
D’Angelo referred questions to the county, which referred questions to artist Terry Corbett, who is facilitating the art installation.
“It started out first with a county proposal,” Corbett says. “It was called the Art Garden. . . . They wanted family-friendly environmental art.”
He says the Wichita Art Museum was working on its new art garden, and it made more sense to him to call the park installation a park since that’s where it’s at.
“I zeroed in on the idea of calling it an Environmental Art Park,” Corbett says. He says the county “at some point called it Sedgwick County Art Park.”
County spokeswoman Kate Flavin says county representatives don’t know when that was.
“Clearly nobody remembers . . . how the Art Park got its name.”
Regardless, she says, “We don’t feel that there’s any confusion.”
On the new sign, “Sedgwick County” is in smaller type above “ART PARK,” which is in all capital letters.
“I did not want it that way,” Corbett says.
Still, he says he doesn’t see a problem with the two names.
“I would like to have five Art Parks in this city,” Corbett says. He thinks it would be “neat to catch on, frankly.”
He says there are lots of Art Parks nationally.
Pepper says she and her husband have branded that name in Wichita.
“We’ve worked really, really hard to create this name. It doesn’t seem right or fair that the city or Sedgwick County can copy off of us. It doesn’t seem right at all.”
The Art Park business name is not trademarked.
“I hadn’t thought I needed to trademark it, but I guess that I do,” Baughman says.
He and Pepper have hired a lawyer to look into the situation.
“We’ve already had people confused by it,” Baughman says.
“With that sign being up, people will clearly be associating it with us,” Pepper says. “There’s plenty of other names they could come up with out there.”
Corbett says he doesn’t mind if the county decides to change the name.
“I just want to get it built,” he says.
If the name remains, Corbett says that’s fine, too.
“I think that people can figure it out,” he says. “Maybe it’s not a perfect situation, but what is perfect about it is I think it will help them in the long run. I really do.”