Archive for Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Artwork to adorn courthouse

Commissioners OK plan for two murals

July 12, 2006

Leavenworth County officials on Thursday gave the go-ahead to commission two historic murals to hang in the courthouse.

At Thursday's county commission meeting, commissioners voted, 3-0, to seek proposals for the 9-by-13-foot murals, which will hang above the south staircase. The works, which will be visible from the first and second floors of the courthouse, will be painted on canvas and framed.

A committee, led by Leavenworth County counselor at-large Keyta Kelly, had been soliciting bids for murals for about a month, but until Thursday, funding had not been approved.

"In order to narrow it down to an artist, we need to have some kind of an idea for a top dollar," Kelly said. "I think we need to have figure we can work with."

But commissioners refrained from setting a price for the murals.

"I'm a little bit hesitant to put a dollar figure on it," said commission chairman Dean Oroke. "... If we put it in at a dollar figure, that's where it will come in."

Graeber noted the commission's vote would give guidance to the committee.

"They can move back to the artists and say, 'The commission is very interested but they're also interested in limiting the cost of this project,'" Graeber said.

Artists in the running

¢ Keyta Kelly, Leavenworth County counselor at large, said Monday that bids for the courthouse murals had been received from these artists: Brenda Bradford, Leigh Coffman, Shane Highfill, Samantha Nowak, Brad Seever, Ernst Ulmer and Michael Young.

And, Graeber suggested selecting two artists, one for each mural.

The murals, Kelly explained, could help draw more tourists to the courthouse, particularly because this part of Kansas is expected to gain federal designation as a National Heritage Area.

Congress has established 27 National Heritage Areas around the country where natural, cultural, historic and recreational resources are managed by partnerships among federal, state, and local governments and the private sector. The program helps provide direction and some funding. And along with the program, there's more potential to increase tourism.

"That is real close to happening," Kelly said. "We'd love to have something that would put us on the map -- the city of Leavenworth, the county. In Leavenworth we have got so much history here, so much to work with and we want to start showing it off, basically saying, 'This is what we've got, come see us.'"

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