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Pavilion for police headquarters gets nod of approval from Lawrence Cultural Arts Commission

The Lawrence Cultural Arts Commission on Wednesday evening approved a sculptural pavilion planned to sit adjacent to the new Lawrence Police Department headquarters. 

The structure is a round, open pavilion that would be constructed of stainless steel. Pairs of eyes created with pieces of stained glass circle the top, and metal arches encircle a sort of nucleus at the center. It will sit back from the street near a trail entrance by the new police headquarters, 5100 Overland Drive, if approved by the Lawrence City Commission.

The artist, Joe O’Connell, gave a brief presentation, spoke with the commission and answered some questions from members Wednesday. 

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A rendering of artist Joe O’Connell’s concept for art that will be located at the new Lawrence Police Department headquarters

LCAC member Denise Stone asked if there would be any additional opportunities for the public to give feedback. She also said she’d heard from a friend who didn’t like the eyes, in light of “bad press” police have gotten in the last year. 

O’Connell said the eyes represent community-based policing and seeing things through other people’s eyes. 

“What’s at the heart of community policing and deescalation is to see where a person is,” he said. “This person — what have they gone through to get them to this point, to this day?”

Porter Arneill, city staff liaison to the LCAC, said that public forums to discuss the piece had not been well attended, and he wasn’t sure how to draw any more. 

“It’s a challenging thing. It would be great to take a lot of time and garner more feedback, but we’ve made this as open as possible,” Arneill said, noting that O’Connell is also on a contract and the city is trying to stick to a set timeline for the project. 

The public art project’s budget of $325,000 was included in the budget for the police headquarters, which came to $18.5 million. 

A nighttime rendering of artist Joe O’Connell’s concept for art that will be located at the new Lawrence Police Department headquarters

See more renderings of the project in this PDF on the city’s website.

Penn Street Lofts mural gets provisional approval

As long as neighbors don’t object, roses and sunflowers will soon bloom on two sides of Penn Street Lofts.

The LCAC gave tentative approval to “Blooming: Roses & Sunflowers,” murals slated for the brick sides of the apartment building under construction at 801 Pennsylvania St. The project is funded entirely by the building owner, artist Stephen T. Johnson told the commission.

Pending letters of support, including one from the East Lawrence Neighborhood Association — and barring any opposition — the project has the LCAC’s approval.

Member Joshua Falleaf said ELNA’s approval was “critical,” especially for art, and as long as they don’t object, that’s sufficient to him. 

The flowers will “grow” up the north and south sides of the building. They will not have full color added, Johnson said. He’s planning to work with Austin Meyers and Travis Andregg of Lawrence-based Strong Hand Steady Signs to complete the murals.

Both the pavilion and the mural project will go to the Lawrence City Commission for final approval. 

“Blooming: Roses,” a proposed mural for the north wall of Penn Street Lofts (Image from Stephen T. Johnson’s proposal to the Lawrence Cultural Arts Commission)
“Blooming: Sunflowers,” a proposed mural for the south wall of Penn Street Lofts (Image from Stephen T. Johnson’s proposal to the Lawrence Cultural Arts Commission)

Artist opportunity:

The deadline for entries in the city’s annual outdoor downtown sculpture exhibition is midnight Sunday, July 18. 

“While it is open to traditional sculpture, we also encourage artists to think beyond traditional approaches to making art for the public realm,” the city said in a tweet Wednesday. 

Find more information about how to enter at this link. See the selected 2019 entries in a brochure at this link.

— Mackenzie Clark (she/her), reporter/founder of The Lawrence Times, can be reached via email at mclark@lawrencekstimes.com or 785-422-6363.

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