When I was preparing to interview artist Kent Williams about the Harry Street Bridge, I was looking at his long list of Wichita works. There was one that caught my attention. I could not picture it and I couldn’t find an exact address. So when I talked to Kent I asked him about the “Musical Fountain.”
The “Circle of Stones and Musical Fountain” was created as part of a development in the uptown area. The area was part of a TIF Funding project approved by the city in 2009.
Kent built the fountain with artist Kit Craig. The music fountain had a 500 gallon pit below the fountain. It was filled half with water, then perforated pipe, so the resonance coming out of the pit sounded like rain. They also suspended bronze cymbals in there, “they would catch the rain and the sound was pretty magical” Williams continued, “it was something you heard, and then you didn’t hear anymore, then you would walk away and you would hear it again. And it would sound different depending on who you were and where you were.”
The following two images are from Kent’s website showing the fountain in its original glory.
On his website Williams described it as, “This fountain invests minimal water while creating an intimate gathering place that enlivins a small neighborhood park. Like a wet glowing campfire, the fountain trickles at the center of a circle of megalithic pentagonal stones. Visitors sit and relax in an environment of ultra-harmonic sound made in-part by dripping water into a resonant underground vault containing suspended bronze cymbals.”
The fountain had fans early on. Williams remembered, “some friends of mine with autistic kids loved it. It lit up, it had dripping water and you got this sound component.”
We did this fountain, but no one knows it’s a fountain, because it was vandalized in the first year it was opened. Someone poured gasoline in it, and lit it on fire. Kent jokingly said, “I wish I could have seen it because that would have been cool as shit to see.”
The developer wanted it fixed, but everything was melted, and it would all have to be replaced. The city’s original deal was for the developers to maintain it. So the city would not pay for the repairs. As Kent told me, “Since no one wanted to pay, they now have a dry fountain that no longer makes music”
I found a development agreement between the city and the new owners of the property. Part of the agreement shows the city will remove the fountain. In Mid-May I drove by, and its still standing.