The Art Institute received some interesting ideas when it asked the children and adults who visited the recently closed 1913 flood exhibition to re-imagine downtown near the Great Miami River.
Someone thought hunting for colossal squid was the answer. Another person thought there should be an underwater Ferris wheel. Yet another thought there should be a tavern where canines could drink a pint. Yep, a bar FOR dogs.
“There is a picture of a mermaid,” said Jane Black, the DAI’s associate director. “I am not sure where we are going to get that.”
Where there were creative suggestions (one can’t exactly assume each one of those came from a child), others were more obtainable and reality based.
Black said at least 200 people left feedback about the river’s future.
Most indicated a desire to use the water and its edges for recreation, entertainment and/or reflection on the beauty of nature.
There have been a host of proposals to develop the river over the last decade. One of the more controversial proposals had to be Steiner + Associates’ plan for a “Town Center.” That developer went on a few years later to open The Greene in 2006.
Responses to DAI’s request ranged from boat rides to playgrounds to floating restaurants to chill cafes.
Black said the comments have been saved and will be added to public other comments about the project if the $50,000 grant request the museum, Downtown Dayton Partnership and the city of Dayton submitted to the National Endowment for the Arts is approved. Officials expect an answer by July.
DAI hopes to help the city “lead a broad consortium of public and private partners in developing a strategy for defining its riverfront as an arts and cultural district,” according to Our Town Grant request documents.
The grant money would be used to cover the design of four art installations that would help direct kayakers, canoeists, bicyclists, pedestrians and drivers to the $4 million RiverScape River Run attraction planned for the Great Miami River downtown.
“It can serve as a sign pointing to where you need to go,” Black said of the artwork.
The James M. Cox Foundation supported river run project and is a major priority of the Downtown Dayton Partnership.
The foundation is the charitable arm of Cox Enterprises and Cox Media Group Ohio that includes the Dayton Daily News, WHIO TV, WHIO AM/FM, Springfield News-Sun, Hamilton JournalNews and the Middletown Journal, as well as other publications and broadcast outlets in southwest Ohio.
Among other things, the Our Town grant money will be used for the selection of design professionals, architects and landscape architects, who will lead the charge in developing a comprehensive plan that will transform the riverfront through art.
Data will be collected through workshops, social media and events like DAI’s Oktoberfest and The Downtown Dayton Partnership’s fall and spring “Urban Night.”
A design firm will be selected to develop a “schematic plan for this section of the riverfront corridor, laying out overall concepts, recommended locations for new public art, changes in traffic patterns, lighting and signage, and specific design principles,” the grant application says.
Things seem to be looking up for the river. If only someone could figure out how to attract a mermaid or
How do you think the river should be used?
Contact this columnist at arobinson@DaytonDailyNews.com or Twitter.com/DDNSmartMouth