Designed by artist Robert Roesch, The Wind Spirit Gateway was meant to capture Wichita’s spirit and create a unique main entrance to the city. Thirty-nine candidates responded to a request for entries.
City leaders were drawn to one idea, and gave Robert Roesh permission to create ten stainless steel spires and two stainless steel fan shapes.
According to his website, Roesch was born in New York State, lives in Pennsylvania and works in a studio in Jersey. However he lived in Wichita for almost a year as work progressed on the Gateway.
Roesch once considered the Gateway one of his biggest works. He told artswfl.com, “It’s the first thing visitors see as they enter the city,” noting with pride he added, “To walk away from a site where you’ve formed the earth and left icons behind is just an amazing thing, especially when you’ve given it meaning.”
From a distance, the completed piece is supposed to resemble a boat’s hull, topped with steel sails and flanked by steel obelisks. Mr. Roesch reached out to me after the story was posted and commented, “I must say it’s more about wind and rolling plains than boats.”
When the installation was first set up, I thought it was so ugly, and in a bad location. It just looked flimsy and with the exception of the steel, I felt it had little to do with Wichita. I’m pretty sure the Arkansas River never hosted huge sailboats, or really any big boats for that matter. And the bathtub races at Riverfest don’t count.
Over time the sculpture has grown on me. I still think it is in a bad location. It’s hard to see from Kellogg, and you barely notice it when you drive down Main. Clearly, it has held up through a lot of storms, so flimsy was a bad choice of words.
I was surprised at how big the fans were on the top of the mound. The mound feels higher too. I guess when you drive by at 60 miles per hour, the proportions are a little skewed. I was also disappointed to see someone had taken the time to tag the fan.
I took some day shots and some night shots to show off this Wichita gateway that should be recognized as one of our city’s many landmarks.
Check out some of Wichita’s other public arts. I like to call it, How Great Our Art.