Give a lonely art a home

It looks like the Wichita Transit Station at William and Topeka is about to go the way of the dodo. But before it rides off into the sunset, I figured I’d swing by for a visit and snap some pics of the mural that’s been gracing its walls since the sunny days of July 1993.

This masterpiece, aptly named “Kansas Daydreaming,” was a $15,000 commission by the City of Wichita Public Art Advisory Board. According to the Wichita Eagle on March 7, 1993, the 7-by-26 foot mural was the brainchild of Peggy Whitney. She had about 80 eager beavers at a workshop each craft a single 8×8-inch tile. It’s like Picasso meets community art project.

The mural received rave reviews in an Eagle article from April 8, 1994. They called it “Appropriate. First-rate. Perfect.” Heck, they even threw some shade at the lackluster downtown gateway sculpture. The article also praised the station’s looks, calling it “contemporarily colorful and hip as anything else in town.” Who knew a transit station could be the cool kid in town?

But, wait for it… there was some drama over the clock tower and its use of “IIII” instead of “IV.” The Eagle delved into this clock conundrum on June 17, 1993. The designer, Thomas Erb, said it’s all about that aesthetic balance. “IIII” is just the right look for clock faces. You know, the ancient art of clock symmetry!

On July 28, 1993, the new station had its ribbon-cutting. Al Hill, the MTA’s marketing wizard, promised it would be a “sight to behold.” Snacks, newspapers, ATM machines, and even special phones for the hearing impaired – this place was the bomb in ’93.

Now, 30 years later, the station is showing its age, standing in the way of progress, like a stubborn grandpa. New schools need parking space, and it’s time to make way.  Let’s hope the city will find the mural a new home, maybe even at the fancy new transit center slated to open near the Riverside Stadium sometime in the near future.