First A Pit, Now An Art Gallery. But Wichita’s Pop-Up Park Has An Uncertain Future

For years a big gap sat behind a fence on the south facet of Douglas Avenue between Market and Foremost.

The results of a redevelopment plan that fell by way of in 2007, “the outlet,” because it was identified, was a fixture in downtown Wichita for nearly a decade earlier than developers filled it, changing it into the ICT Pop-Up Park.

Tables, chairs, umbrellas and even a ping pong table adorned the graveled floor. Lower than a metropolis block in measurement and in between two buildings, the area didn’t really feel an entire lot completely different from the park only a block east. However a go for meals vans to park there all through the day began giving the park its character.

“It was only a great place to get along with buddies,” mentioned Lonny Quattlebaum, who works downtown. “I actually loved going out to the pop-up park, grabbing lunch and simply hanging out. You recognize what else was nice in regards to the pop-up park, [it was an] alternative for dwell music.”

Within the 5 years it was open, the park turned a vacation spot for artists and downtown staff. Emily Brookover helped plan occasions for the park as director of group improvement for Downtown Wichita.

“It actually was meant to be a brief area, thus the title ‘Pop-Up Park,’” she mentioned. “It was simply meant to pop up for a short while, nevertheless it was overwhelmingly profitable between all the programming that occurred there, the occasions, the every day meals vans and all the enjoyable issues that occurred.

“So it was shortly embraced by the group and have become a effectively beloved area.”

Brookover programmed many of the occasions on the park during the last two years, and the added bustle appeared the park was going to be everlasting.

Then, in September, it closed.

A series hyperlink fence on the spot now serves two functions: blocking the previous park and showcasing the work of native artists. Kristen Beal is the founding father of Harvester Arts, which is working with Bokeh Improvement and the Wichita Neighborhood Basis to point out artists’ work on the former park.

“The ChainLinkGallery is an effort to only proceed to activate the positioning, however in a brand new technique to hold individuals taking a look at it … and let the general public know that one thing goes to occur right here,” Beal mentioned. “So that they’re going to be expecting what’s subsequent.”

Artist Priscella Brown’s “Elevate Your Voice” was the primary piece on the gallery. The mural was devoted to Martin Luther King Jr. and the plight of racial injustice particular to 2020. The present piece, by Heather Byers, went up this week.

Beal says there aren’t any plans for ChainLinkGallery or the ICT Pop-Up Park past April on account of COVID-19.

“We have to have a wholesome public in an effort to have a wholesome public area, and it’s not secure to assemble individuals proper now,” she mentioned. “So we’re taking a tough pause and coaching of us, creatives and artists on the town to study how you can create wholesome public areas for once we can all come again collectively in order that we will do this in a significant and impactful method.”

Brookover with Downtown Wichita is reluctant to vow a return of the park.

“You recognize, the worst factor we will do is say we’re going to reopen the pop-up park in June of this 12 months after which that not occur,” she mentioned.

A number of the park’s tables and umbrellas can nonetheless be seen behind the fence. Quattlebaum says he regrets not spending extra time there when he had the possibility.

“I actually want I’d’ve bought that extra usually” he mentioned, “as a result of I don’t suppose I’m going to have the chance once more.”