Sculptor proposes design for city's OK

A 38-foot-tall metal sculpture, designed to represent Wichita's aviation and American Indian heritage, is the proposed art project for WaterWalk.

On Monday the public will get a chance to meet the artist and view a model of the proposed project.

Tuesday, the Wichita City Council will be asked to approve the design by Albert Paley. Last September, the council selected the Rochester, N.Y., sculptor from a field of 19 artists.

"He's done the design for the site," said John D'Angelo, director of the city's division of arts and cultural services. "Now it's time for (the council) to say either, 'Yeah, you've got it right,' or 'Try again.' "

The $350,000 cost of the project has already been approved and is in the budget. The sculpture is for the corner of Waterman and Main.

"This is a very contemporary piece," D'Angelo said. "It creates a sense of space and place."

The sculpture would be created from bronze, stainless steel and Cor-Ten steel.

The stainless steel and sweeping upward motions of the sculpture are meant to tie it to the city's aviation heritage, D'Angelo said.

The bronze and Cor-Ten steel will represent colors suggestive of the natural environment significant to American Indians. The bronze will undergo an oxidation process and turn green, and the Cor-Ten steel rusts naturally and doesn't break down in structure, D'Angelo said.

A wheat sculpture by City Hall uses Cor-Ten steel.

The upward spirals and fan shapes toward the top of Paley's design are meant to tie to those on the nearby bridge, D'Angelo said.

Over the past 30 years, Paley has created more than 60 site-specific works, according to his website.

His work is at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the museums of fine art in Boston and Houston and the St. Louis Zoological Park.

He's the first metal sculptor to receive the lifetime achievement award from the American Institute of Architects.

If Paley's design is approved, he will begin a six-month fabrication process immediately. Installation would be scheduled for October.

There will be a public reception Monday for Paley from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Century II's Mary Jane Teall Theater, 225 W. Douglas. Paley will present a model of the sculpture.

In addition, the city will hold an arts and culture industry lecture from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 14 at the Teall Theater. It is open to the public. Lunch may be purchased for $8.

A presentation and panel discussion will be led by Tim Austin, chairman of Wichita's Design Council.