The new outdoor Chainlink Gallery Place in downtown Wichita is a place where art can be viewed and created, even if you’ve never wielded a paintbrush or spray can before.
Located between Main and Market on the south side of Douglas, in the former ICT Pop-Up Urban Park that closed in September 2020 after five years, Chainlink Gallery Place officially opened as an interactive community art space July 24.
The space is open on Thursday and Friday evenings, as well during the day on Saturdays, for families, passersby and other visitors “to experiment, be creative, build, lounge, relax and enjoy,” according to organizers.
“We want to create a fun space, an experimental sandbox of sorts,” said Kristin Beal, a co-founder of Harvester Arts, which is facilitating the 18- to 24-month Chainlink Gallery Place. Other project partners are Bokeh Development, the Wichita Community Foundation and Lifeboat Creative. The project is being funded by a $50,000 grant from the Knight Foundation.
“We are creating a fun place where local artists can be creative and leave their mark. And it’s important that the community feel engaged to pick up a brush and leave their mark too. We’re planning community and participatory events for people who don’t see themselves as artists,” Beal said.
Chainlink Gallery Place is currently displaying a new untitled mural by Quintis Pinkston (aka Quack) on the wall of the adjacent Caldwell-Murdock Building, a camera obscura from Hugo Zelada Romero’s Camera for the Commons project and Angelica Chavez’s new work, “géliquitas,” on the chain-link fence between the space and the sidewalk. Brightly colored planters made from tires dot the interior of the place. There’s also a large Connect 4 game and a ping pong table to encourage some playtime.
But the “main attraction” for Chainlink Gallery Place, Beal said, is the community art mural.
When the space is open, visitors can paint on various-sized plywood panels that are affixed to the wall under Pinkston’s mural. Visitors should be prepared, however, for the fact that their artwork may be short-lived.
“Even in the next hour, someone could paint over what you painted – that’s happened already. That’s just the nature of the site,” Beal said.
Harvester Arts is putting together a roster of artist-led community events and dialogue scheduled for upcoming Friday nights. The Chainlink Gallery Place will also be an official activity site during the Wichita River Festival in early October, Beal said.
The artwork displayed on the chain-link fence will rotate every other month. Before Chainlink Gallery Place officially opened in late July, artwork by local artists had already been displayed on the fence between February and April.
Depending on participation and feedback, opening hours for Chainlink Gallery Place may be adapted, Beal said. More popup markets, like the one that happened opening day, are planned too.
“We’ll pivot and react to the community as we learn different things on-site,” Beal said.
Chainlink Gallery Place
What: an 18- to 24-month experimental and interactive community art space and artist gallery
Where: between Main and Market streets on the south side of Douglas Avenue
When: the community interactive space is accessible from 5 p.m. until sunset Thursday and Friday evenings, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturdays; artwork on the chain-link fence and the murals on a building wall are visible from the street