Jason Brock takes the bus every day from Wabash Station to Paris Road to cut his walk to work to only a mile and a half. He said the last thing he thinks about is art, but that is exactly what the 95-year-old Wabash Station is about to get.
Columbia’s Office of Cultural Affairs is calling for Missouri artists to submit qualifications to provide art for the historic station through the city’s Percent for Art program. Cultural Affairs Director Marie Hunter said the city has $12,000 available for the artwork.
Passengers interviewed at the Wabash Station showed little interest in imagining what sort of art might be appropriate for the depot at Tenth and Ash streets, but some offered ideas.
“Me, I’m big into dragons,” Brock said, adding that the city will probably settle on “a painting or drawing because it’s really hard to do a 3-D structure.”
Passenger Tasha Robbins thought a scene of butterflies and dolphins would be appropriate, but her husband, Jason, was unmoved by the prospect of art, saying the city could better spend the money on other amenities.
Wabash Station is in line for public art because the city has embarked on a major restoration and addition to the depot, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Hunter said the Standing Committee on Public Art will review applications and make the final selection. “(The artwork) has not been predetermined,” she said. “(We) try to keep it pretty open.”
Hunter said the artist or artists selected should start their work in mid to late 2006. Ken Koopmans, director of public transportation, said the artwork should not get in the way of bus riders or vehicle traffic.
“(The artwork) will be put in place after the construction phase has been done,” Koopmans said.
City officials have been planning to renovate the site since 2000. The Columbia City Council approved a Percent for Art project at Wabash Station in December 2001.
The Percent for Art Program was established in 1997. It allows for 1 percent of the cost of any new city construction or renovation project to be allocated to artwork for the site.