Art About Town: Terpischore for Kansas City

Each of Kansas City’s One Percent for Art installations poses a unique challenge for artists working to adapt their vision to a municipal building’s primary use. The City’s Arts District Garage, adjacent to the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, was no exception.

Early on, artists Mags Harries and Lajos Heder—the panel-selected artist team selected to create the artwork for the structure—embraced the notion that a garage might serve a more innovative purpose than merely storing cars. Through extensive research and interviews with stakeholders, they recognized that, properly outfitted, a garage can become an inventive and inspiring experiential device for the pleasure of people moving through the garage; particularly audience members going to and coming from performances at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. Thus, Terpsichore for Kansas City was created. (Terpsichore, pronounced, turp-sik-uh-ree, means “delight of dancing” and is the name of the Muse of Greek mythology who ruled over dance and choral song.)

Harries and Heder understood that most people view a garage as a “space between,” a transitional place between one’s car and destination. To enhance the visitor’s experience, when people pass through the Arts District Garage they’ll hear original music resonating throughout the structure. As they pass through toward one of the exits or the central stairway, they’ll notice that the music is unique to the space – one of a number of compositions created specifically for the space by a rotating group of composers including David Moulton, Roberta Vacca and Kansas City’s Bobby Watson.

On their garage journey, most will encounter the center piece of the artwork—a four-story “light organ” situated in the central stair tower of the garage – and will notice the soft blue lights are moving in smooth synchronicity with the music, gliding up and down the four-story acrylic tubes of the artwork.

The artists hope that the experience in the garage will provide enjoyment for passersby and a gentle transition for those coming to or who have just enjoyed a performance inside one of the two halls.

Terpsichore for Kansas City is the 38th artwork in the city’s nationally recognized collection.


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