Has Brush Creek finally been tamed? After the September 1977 flood that killed 25 people, the channel running between Roanoke Parkway and Tracy Avenue has been widened, deepened and beautified on the federal, JoCo and KCMO governments' dimes. This weekend, the effort broadens when the first annual Brush Creek Art Walk, a plein-air painting competition, lines the four miles of streamway. It's a juried show in which artists create works along Brush Creek Friday through Sunday. (Winners exhibit their works at the UMKC Gallery of Art beginning August 23.) A free concert concludes the art walk at 4 p.m. Sunday at Theis Park (48th Street and Oak), with Howard Iceberg, Hidden Pictures, Barclay Martin and others. The Pitch spoke with Program Director Gregory Summers to get more details.
The Pitch: Was this event your idea?
Summers: The Kansas City Parks Department approached Anne Garney and myself on how to get people in the newly landscaped eastern end of the Brush Creek streamway. Anne came up with this idea of a "plein-air paint-out," which are becoming more and more popular across the country among artists and art lovers.
How many paintings can each painter enter?
Artists can paint as many as they like in the given time period, but due to limited space at UMKC Gallery of Art, we are limiting the number that each artist turns in — no more than one painting per zone. The zones run from Roanoke to Rockhill Road, Rockhill Road to 71 Highway, 71 Highway to Benton Boulevard, and Benton Boulevard to Elmwood.
Are you expecting to see any paintings that depict not-so-beautiful visions of Brush Creek?
We are not restricting what the artists paint as long as they paint on-site and within the boundaries of the zones. I am sure some less-than-beautiful scenes will be painted, but they sometimes turn out to be the most interesting, or the most beautiful, through the artists' eyes.
What is it about Brush Creek that inspires you?I have been coming down to Brush Creek since the '60s. It's a fun, vibrant area where artists, musicians, people of every walk of life gather. A quote from Queen Victoria that I love: "Beware of artists. They mix with all classes of society and are, therefore, the most dangerous." I think I'm paraphrasing, but I love the people and the land of this area, and all its eccentricities.