Kansas City, Missouri, 2005
The quote, “Commerce has made all winds her messengers. All climes her tributaries. All people her servants. Yet from the land she draws her sustenance and her strength” was taken from the South facade of the Kansas City Municipal Auditorium. As part of Kansas City’s public art annual, Avenue of the Arts, I constructed a billboard on the north side of the auditorium and re-quoted the text in a new font and color.
The auditorium was built in 1934 as part of what was known as “The Ten-Year Plan,” a dramatic increase in public works projects and construction in response to the great depression. The auditorium and the other structures built during this era represent a focused effort to re-invigorate Kansas City with building projects and downtown activity. In the years since, activity downtown was decimated by white flight but is again experiencing a similar period of focus on development, as luxury condominiums rise all over the downtown and midtown areas. These earlier 1930’s buildings carry the spirit of the city’s previous development as well as the history of the city’s spirit, ideals and world-views at the time of construction.
“Billboard” is an opportunity to draw attention to this history as Kansas City navigates a new round of development downtown. Re-presenting the quote from the south facade of the Kansas City Municipal Auditorium in billboard format on the corner of 13th and Central Street, is intended to draw attention to Kansas City’s history as a specific place, and to ask questions about what the current round of development in downtown Kansas City will say to future generations of Kansas Citians.