Public exhibition features artists from near and far

Courtesy photo by Kirk Seese.

Despite delays, installations for the Public Art Exhibition organized by Manhattan’s Arts and Humanities Advisory Board are proceeding this month with a tentative unveiling planned for July.

Two pieces — “Purple Feather” and “Petrified Forest” — are on display and eight more are expected to come in the series.

“We are excited and pleased that we’re moving forward with this Public Art Exhibition, it’s been in the works for a couple years and it’s kind of great to finally see it come to fruition,” Randi Clifford, director of recreation and staff liaison for the AHAB, said.

The 10 pieces that were selected for the installation come from both Kansas-native artists and others across the country. Funding for the project was made possible by the Greater Manhattan Community Foundation and its Deihl Community Grant, which funded the $20,000 project.

Originally, the plan was to have the pieces installed by mid-May to be unveiled at a Third Thursday art walk, but COVID-19 restrictions have put the brakes on those events.

As challenges have arisen, Clifford said they’ve tried to maintain flexibility with the artists.

“We’ve had to push back our installation timeframes a couple times, and some of the artists that were selected have had their own challenges, either with fabrication of their pieces or [for] some of those that are coming from out of state, making travel plans,” he said. “Everything made it a little more challenging than normal, but it’s happening.”

Despite delays in the installations, Clifford said they are still planning to do some sort of unveiling, with a walking tour and artist invitation event in July after all the pieces are in place.

Kirk Seese, a Baltimore-based artist, was the first to see his work installed. However, the piece currently at the Blue Earth Plaza is not the one for which he was originally approved.

Though Seese’s background is in murals, he has more recently ventured into sculpting, and was approved for the proof of concept he submitted called “Magnify,” an acrylic magnifying glass with a colored, rotating lens. He ran into issues in the supply chain when obtaining materials for his piece.

“‘Magnify’ was the one that was selected, but due to the COVID-19 restrictions, the fabrication shops had to close, so I wasn’t able to build [it],” Seese said.

In the meantime, Seese said he decided to use “Purple Feather,” a ten-foot post displaying four multi-colored panels, as a placeholder.

Courtesy photo by Kirk Seese.
Courtesy photo by Kirk Seese.

“The feather is one that I designed last year, it’s actually kind of my debut sculpture, it was selected for several exhibitions around the country,” Seese said. “If everyone likes it, maybe we’ll just leave it and keep it there, but what you see there is actually a holding place for ‘Magnify.’”

When the exhibition concludes at the end of April next year, the pieces will come down, but Clifford said some artists may choose to make their work available for purchase. Though the exhibition is temporary, Clifford said he hopes they can make this an annual event.

“[It’s] an opportunity to highlight the efforts to increase and do a little bit more with public art in the community,” Clifford said.

My name is Rebecca Vrbas. I’m the culture editor at the Collegian and a junior in journalism and mass communications. My hobbies include obsessing over an ever-expanding pool of musicals and cats (not the musical). I love writing because of the infinite intricacy of language, as well as its power to cultivate a sense of community through sharing experiences.