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Art Coming To The Arkansas River In Downtown Wichita

Hugo Phan

Downtown Wichita is getting more art sculptures--but you won’t find these installations on city streets or near buildings.

A new program called ArkArt is bringing art sculptures to the middle of the Arkansas River between the bridges on Waterman Street and Douglas Avenue.

Local artists Mike Miller and Marc Durfee created the first installation, “DNA,” to underscore the relationship between water and humankind.

Project Leader Ty Tabing says foam swimming pool noodles and lightweight tubing are twisted into a 100-feet-long and 10-feet-high structure.

"It’s a very colorful piece that really resembles what DNA looks like if you are looking at it under the microscope," he says.

Tabing says the sculpture will remain in the river until late November. A second art piece will launch next spring.

"With seasonal installations that change like this, it hopefully will give people a reason to go down on a quarterly basis to see what’s going on," he says.

There will be signs on the bridges and on each side of the river that provide information about the art sculpture and the artists.

Tabing says because the floating art sculptures will be anchored in the middle of the river, open channels will remain on each side for activities that regularly take place on the river such as Wichita State University’s rowing team practice.

He says they’ll study how the first installation works in the river to help guide what comes next.

"We want to better understand the context, the winds and the river current, and then use that information to do a second installation in the spring that’s even more impactful than this initial installation will be," he says.

The ArkArt program is funded by a grant from the Wichita Community Foundation and donations from businesses along the Arkansas River.



Follow Deborah Shaar on Twitter @deborahshaar.

To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.


Deborah joined the news team at KMUW in September 2014 as a news reporter. She spent more than a dozen years working in news at both public and commercial radio and television stations in Ohio, West Virginia and Detroit, Michigan. Before relocating to Wichita in 2013, Deborah taught news and broadcasting classes at Tarrant County College in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas area.