Peerless Princess may rule Douglas

Once upon a time, Wichita was promoted as the "Peerless Princess of the Plains."

If Project Beauty has its way, a sculpture bearing that name will soon grace downtown near Century II.

The City Council on Tuesday will consider accepting the 14-foot welded steel figure created by Augusta artist Frank Jensen and purchased by Project Beauty.

The piece conveys a woman in a pose Jensen calls "catching the wind," her arms looped above her head joyfully.

It's a taller, somewhat modified version of a sculpture Jensen created about 30 years ago in homage to the nickname Wichita Eagle publisher Marsh Murdock coined to promote the fledgling city.

The sculpture would be displayed in the median on Douglas between Water and Waco in front of Century II, replacing a wooden statue created by local artist Gino Salerno.

"I think it's a neat piece," said John D'Angelo, manager of the city's division of arts and cultural services.

The sculpture is being promoted as a complement to the Tripodal and the steel adornments on the Douglas Avenue bridge.

Promoters hope to have the sculpture in place in time for the River Festival.

Pat Maechtlen, a Project Beauty committee member, said it's particularly fitting that a new piece of art created by a Kansan be added to the city's art collection on the 150th anniversary of Kansas becoming a state.

"It's certainly nice that it honors Frank Jensen," D'Angelo said. "It'll be nice to have a piece of his in the city."

The sculpture will become a piece in the city's public art collection and will be maintained by the public art maintenance program.