Client: Johnson County Parks and Recreation Department
Location: Prarie Village, KS, United States
Completion date: 2022
Artwork budget: $95,000
Created custom cast glass
Dierk Van Keppel
Johnson County Parks and Recreation Department
Based on the Kansas sunflower, “Gateway” is designed to be not only striking and dynamic, but also an engaging and interactive art piece. Standing over 12 feet tall, 24 brightly colored petals shoot out from the center structure. The center of the flower creates an archway that beckons visitors to walk through. Inside the arch, illustrated panels stretch from the floor up the interior sides and feature illustrations that represent the history of the park and surrounding city. Behind and above the illustrated panels, the rest of the archway is covered with mirror polished stainless steel that reflects the visitors below and represents the present and future of the community.
The goals of this project were to create a site specific sculpture that has a direct relationship to the community and park, activate the space, and enhance the feeling of civic pride and place among the residents.
The process began with concept sketches that were then developed into a 3D model. From there, cut files are developed and sent for steel pieces to be cut to the needed sizes and shapes to form each part of the piece. Each petal was shaped and welded, then hot dip galvanized to protect from rusting. After galvanizing, the petals were then power coated for color. Each petal has a piece of custom cast glass at the center. The glass is cast in custom molds to achieve the specific size and shape needed. The glass is trapped in the center of the petals with a plate the bolts onto the back of each petal. LED lights strips run around the glass and light up at night.
The center structural arch is built with a stainless steel framework and clad with Corten steel with a rust patina. Each petal bolts to the steel archway and LED lighting is run through each petal.
The center arch features steel cutout illustrations that represent the history of the area, including Native American History, Farming, Immigrant workers and the history of building the railroads, and the Jewish History of the park itself. Artists from each of these communities were commissioned to contribute illustrations for these panels. Jennifer Tiger contributed illustrations representing the Osage Nation, Ruthe Blalock Jones contributed images to represent the Shawnee tribe, Isaac Tapia contributed images representing the Mexican and other immigrant workers who helped to build the railroads, and Laura Bolter contributed illustrations representing the Jewish Community that once owned the area of the park.