Roeland Park looking to raise funds, commission major sculpture for R Park

A scaled model of the proposed R Park sculpture.

By Holly Cook

The Roeland Park city council on Monday showed unanimous support for the Arts Committee to begin raising $56,000 to commission a sculpture for R Park by artist Jorge Blanco.

The 5-to-6 foot sculpture would depict a bright red runner and would stand on two 8-foot poles.

The sculpture utilizes vibrant primary colors and incorporates three R’s within its design — a nod to the Roeland Park Elementary School previously located at the R Park site. (The R’s are meant to symbolize reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic in addition to R Park and Roeland Park.)

According to the Arts Committee report, “With the installation of this sculpture, R Park will flourish as a destination point for Roeland Park residents and for people who live in or visit the Kansas City metropolitan area. Similar to the shuttle cocks at the Nelson-Atkins or the murals downtown, large-scale outdoor public art is an exceptional way to showcase what a vital community we have and who we are.”

Two of Blanco’s pieces were installed in Leawood City Park in 2008 and during Monday’s meeting Leawood Cultural Arts Coordinator April Bishop fully endorsed Blanco, saying he was professional and very easy to work with.

The Arts Committee plans to raise the funds through private and business contributions so the sculpture will pose a minimal cost to the city. An anonymous donor has already promised $10,000 to support the sculpture, according to the arts report.

Chair of the Arts Committee Marek Gliniecki said he thought the sculpture was worthy of the council’s approval and referred to the piece as progressive, fun, energetic and reflective of the R Park’s history.

Councilmembers Claudia McCormack, Michael Poppa and Jennifer Hill spoke in support of the sculpture and Hill made a motion for the council to move the art approval to the consent agenda of an upcoming council meeting. The council signaled unanimous support for Hill’s motion.

Citizen groups have worked to raise money to pay for R Park improvements like a walking trail and landscaping in recent years.