An art as big as all outdoors

Sadly, this is not the first story I have posted beginning with… I wasn’t a fan.  

The column of pastel lights reminded me of a bunch of tall lightsabers sticking out of the ground.  They were dumb and they didn’t look like they would hold up to the weather changes of Kansas.  I said it before, and I will say it again.  I was wrong.  22 years later, I like them.  They give a nice warmth to the area, and they’ve been around so long, they just seem like they have always been there.

Unofficially they were called, “The Circle of Lights.” They were installed at the intersection of Central, McLean and Meridian in late 2000, early 2001.  The designers told the Eagle it was “to create a ‘room’ around the intersection.”  Original plans included a fountain, but that idea was scrapped by the city.

According to the Wichita Eagle, many Wichitans were not a fan of the 360k+ installation. Wichita Eagle columnist, Bob Getz asked readers to suggest names for the installation.  Among his picks were: The Thriller Pillars, The Pillars of Waste, Groan of Art, The Neon Silos, Glowsticks of the Plains, Neon Nuisance, The Sewer Pipe Light Display, and Electric Popsicles.

The Neon Light Columns feature 14 neon towers, each one is about 32 feet tall. The towers change color randomly. The inside of each tube holds 2 red neon light strips and 2 blue neon light strips.  They were engineered and fabricated by Hutchinson’s Luminous Neon, Inc.,

At the time of its creation city officials told the Eagle, “The effect will be warm and wonderful. The circle will be a western gateway to downtown and the Riverside Museum district.” 

The $363,000 installation was designed by Wichita artist Steve Murillo, with Ron Sellers, Willie Steuber, Jade Liska, Jeff Bradley, and Maria Erikson.

Murillo told The Wichita Eagle in 2001, “this will really come to fruition in about 20 years, when the trees and shrubs have grown up.”

Mr. Murillo’s other works can be found in the neon-light shades in Old Town Plaza.  

The Railroad Corridor Project which I did a story on awhile back.  Check it out: Rust in the Wind.

The Solar Field in Central Riverside Park.

The EcoEvolution sculpture using farm equipment in Old Town.  Steve created it with artist Richard Bergen who created the Heritage Woman sculpture in Heritage Square Park.

I was disappointed to find so many of the light columns not working last week when Jeremy and I stopped to take the nightside pictures. Hopefully the city is working on them right now.

Check out some of Wichita’s other art pieces. How great our art

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