Public artwork to be installed along Line Creek Trail

The City of Riverside is moving ahead with its plan to install public art along the Line Creek Trail.

Last fall, the city put out a call for art for the monarch butterfly migration trail. At the Tuesday, Feb. 19 board of aldermen meeting, parks director Noel Challis presented the final artists and their concepts. Challis said the city received 37 submissions, which were later narrowed to seven finalists.

The city’s first public art project will focus on monarch butterflies and their importance as pollinators. As Riverside — and, in fact, the entire Kansas City metro area — is part of the annual monarch butterfly migration path, city park board members decided last year this was a fitting place to start.

The large orange and black beauties migrate every fall from the northern states to Mexico for the winter. In spring, the butterflies head back north to breed.

Riverside’s tribute will include six installations along the Line Creek Trail. Installations at the northern end of the trail are community projects involving local schools, while the pieces further south are commissioned from professional artists.

Challis said the project has a starting budget of $15,000 from the Riverfest budget, but estimated costs are expected to be $57,000. The Riverside Tourism Commission has agreed to support the project with $40,000.

Lakeview Middle School and Park Hill South High School have committed to creating art for two of the sites, Challis said. A possible collaboration with local Girl Scouts is in the works for the third community installation.

Three works from two professional artists were chosen for the remainder of the trail. Kansas City artist Jake Balcom will produce a 20-foot piece to be installed at E.H. Young Riverfront Park while pieces from Donald Gialanella, of Florida, will grace Renner Brenner Park and a section of trail at Cliffview and Vivion Road.

Challis said additional art, including large medallions on the bridge near Argosy Casino, is under consideration, pending location of additional project funds.

Mayor Kathy Rose expressed her enthusiasm for the project, stating the artists assured city staff the sculptures would stand the test of time and potential public abuse – such as the attempts of curious children to climb the art. The piece in E.H. Young Park is designed to stand up to flood waters, and would remain visible above water when the Missouri River floods.

The plan is to have the art installed by next fall.