Mural proposal approved for Municipal Court and Evidence building

Meghan Flynn
Garden City Telegram
An initial watercolor painting by Michael Knutson gives a rendering of what a mural will look like on the Municipal Court and Evidence building. Knutson's artwork proposal was chosen by the City Commission Tuesday for the building at 310 N. Seventh St.

A mural proposal for the new Municipal Court and Evidence Building has been approved pending a meeting between Garden City Commissioners and the artist at the city's regular Commission meeting Tuesday.

At the Sept. 21 Commission meeting Commissioners authorized a request for proposals to go out; they received four applications. 

Proposals were submitted by Mindy Allen out of Junction City; Dave Loewenstein who did a mural on the Kep's Men's Wear building; Michael Knutson, an art professor at Garden City Community College; and Crystal Cruz, a student of Knutson's at GCCC.

Knutson's design was chosen.

Stuart McCrery, city manager intern, said a committee of five was created to look at the applications. It included himself; Melissa Gallegos, executive director of Garden City Downtown Vision; Katie Guthrie, executive director of Garden City Arts; and Vivian Fankhauser, a resident who has worked on public art projects.

McCrery said they chose Knutson's design because they "felt that him being local and his experience with the form was really valuable and we really appreciated the design he had."

The design features Monarch butterflies in a garden design setting with plants that produce a habitat for the butterflies such as butterfly weed, green milkweed, tickseed sunflower, purple cornflower, etc.  It also features children interacting with the butterflies as well all four stages of the life of a butterfly's life from the egg to adult form. 

McCrery said they liked a lot about the design with its garden aesthetic, which tied into the name of Garden City, as well as the Monarchs which come through the area and also ties into a theme of immigration.

"it has this whimsical character to it that we feel would really enhance the energy of downtown," he said. 

There were some issues with the application, McCrery said, which is why they asked that the Commission have a meeting with Knutson before making their final decision. 

One of the issues is Knutson's projected cost of the project was $4,600 over the $15,000 budget as well as the timeline of when it would be completed, McCrery said. The committee also wanted there to be the possibility to tweak some elements of the design for the final version, in particular removing a large head near the side of the mural that some members didn't like. 

McCrery said the committee has talked to him and believes the issues can be resolved to a certain extend. 

In regards to the budget, McCrery said Guthrie mentioned that the paints listed in the application are pretty high end and if they switch them with more like household grade paint, which has been done in Great Bend for a lot of their projects, that would be practical. 

"We could also potentially simplify the design of the mural, which would make it cheaper, so we would be able to get it down within budget for sure if we work with him," McCrery said. 

In regard to the timeline, the issue is temperature, McCrery said. They were told murals can't really be painted in temperatures below 70-degree Fahrenheit or else the paint might start to chip off. They wanted the mural done by the time the building is ready, by the end of the year, however, that's not going to be practical. 

McCrery said Knutson is optimistic that depending on his schedule at GCCC he could get it done closer to March rather than his proposed summer date. 

McCrery said Knutson is also willing to meet with the Commission in order to make sure they are happy with what he has, to tweaks to the final design. 

"Overall, the committee's recommendation is that we do want to go with his design, but before making any final sort of approval that's fully official we'd like for the Commission to have a pre-meeting with Michael Knutson where you can all essentially hash out these details, make sure that he's able to get within the city's budget and also come out with a design that the Commission is happy with," he said.