First-ever Prairie Village Art Walk will tell stories behind city’s sculptures, including new ‘Fifties Freedom’ piece

Prairie Village Art Walk

The first-ever Prairie Village Art Walk kicks off on Friday, June 11, with a ribbon cutting for "Fifties Freedom in the Village," above. "Freedom" is the city's most recent public sculpture, above. It was crafted by SM East graduate Spencer Schubert after being commissioned by SM East graduate Brad Johnson. File photo.

A summer of art and activities is on its way to Prairie Village.

The first-ever Prairie Village Art Walk kicks off on Friday, June 11, with a ribbon cutting for the “Fifties Freedom In The Village” sculpture at 71st Street and Mission Road.

Jessie Cartwright, a Prairie Village resident and daughter of Anna Belle Campbell, who created the city’s iconic “Homesteaders” sculpture, pitched the idea for the art walk last winter.

Homesteaders sculpture PV
Participants in Friday’s art will meet at the Homesteaders sculpture at 69th Street and Mission Road, pictured above.

Cartwright and the Prairie Village Arts Council collected data on the city’s existing public art, created an art walk team and selected a geo-mapping app for the event.

Now, Cartwright said she’s ready to see the event come to fruition.

“My hope is that people will develop an appreciation for public art in Prairie Village, represented by local and internationally known artists, and also gain a sense of well-being in their participation,” Cartwright said in an email to the Shawnee Mission Post.

Art walk details

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“Fluid Form,” pictured above, at the Village Shops is the second stop on the Prairie Village Art Walk.

Those who want to participate in the inaugural art walk should meet at the “Homesteaders” sculpture at 69th Street and Mission Road at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, June 11.

From there, Mayor Eric Mikkelson and members of the city arts council will lead participants through the Village Shops to the second art walk’s second stop, “Fluid Form.”

The third stop will be the ribbon cutting event at “Fifties Freedom In The Village” at 6 p.m.

Sculptor E. Spencer Schubert and donor Brad Johnson — a Shawnee Mission East graduate who worked with the city for years to donate the piece — will be in attendance to formally inaugurate the city’s newest sculpture.

The work was unveiled last summer amid the COVID-19 pandemic and is meant to evoke the “exhilarating sense of freedom” kids in post-World War II era Prairie Village felt riding around on their bikes.

Mikkelson said, with the help of the arts council, the city worked for several years and through several setbacks to bring “Fifties Freedom in the Village” to life.

“A generous easement donation of the land from First Washington Realty and a small amount of city funding and labor for the plaza where it sits finally allowed us to bring Brad’s generous vision to fruition for everyone’s benefit,” Mikkelson said.

After the ribbon cutting at the “Freedom” statue, participants will continue south on Mission Road to see four more public sculptures and a mural.

The June 11 event will finish up at Corinth Square. The trip in total is 3.6 miles.

If you can’t make it Friday evening, there is a way to take a self-guided version of the tour.

Download OtoCast on your smartphone and search “Prairie Village,” or it may automatically come up if you allow the app to track your location.

The self-guided art walk audio tour will be available on Otocast through August.