Rust in the Wind

Several locations along the railroad corridor and Santa Fe

Rails and Wheels

Sculptures: Steve Murillo and Terry Corbett

An article from KMUW called them “industrial compositions.”  They had always caught my eye as I drove around the downtown area.  Rusty looking sculptures that spun in the wind and looked like someone had welded old farm equipment together.  Like many Wichitans, I was like, “weird” and drove on.  I knew there was more than one, but again, I had not put much thought into them.  Then on an afternoon of picture taking, I decided to stop and take a few pics.  That’s when a plaque noted the name, “Rails and Wheels” What a great idea!  I had to find out more.  

There are five sculptures along the railroad corridor.  You can find them near:

NW Corner: Santa Fe and Murdock

SW Corner: Santa Fe and Murdock

SW Corner: Santa Fe and Central

SW Corner: Santa Fe and 2nd

SW Corner: Santa Fe and 1st

SW Corner: Santa Fe and 1st

SW Corner: Santa Fe and 1st

Union Pacific railroad donated the materials for the project. Each sculpture has a theme.  Railroad Crossing, Train Time, Timepiece, and Electric Train are the focus of these creations.  There are steel beams, metal circles and arcs, tiles, and train parts like crossing lights, railroad spikes and rail beams.

They are interactive, one of the sculptures had a train bell and a hand crank so I had to give it a try.  I thought it was cool.  The child in me could have rang the bell all day.  But, in my head, my mom’s voice was yelling, “quit dawdling and get moving.” I decided to follow her advice, and got moving.

A little bit about the artists: 

Terry Corbett is from Wichita.  Studying at WSU and Kansas Newman College.

Steve Murillo is originally from Chillicothe, MO and studied at WSU. 

Both artists operate out of Wichita.

I was able to talk with Terry on the phone.  The sculptures came together about ten years ago.  It was part of a call for artists from the city.  “Most of the entrants wanted to do murals but Steve had the idea for a railroad sculpture.”  Their original idea involved, “actual train wheels which are extremely heavy.”  That’s when Drew Meeks, a volunteer at The Great Plains Transportation Museum, and architectural engineer recommended “bending the rails to create the forms.”  They focused on the idea of time.  Corbett told me, “Time and trains go together.  The train system led to the creation of time zones.” adding, “ the porters carried around watches to keep the trains on time.  You know when a Pullman Porter retired, he was given a watch.”

Interesting Note: Terry said the tile colors, “represented the various train companies that ran through Wichita.” He also said there is a hidden morse code in one of the mosaics. “If you know the code, it spells time.”

Special thanks to Terry for spending some time chatting with me.  You should check out some of Terry’s many other art projects around town with a visit to Central Riverside Park and College Hill Park. There are more and I hope to get those covered on the website in the near future.

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