Launched May 2017
Gallery Alley transformed an underutilized alley into a vibrant outdoor public art and sculpture park.
The alley bisects the 600 block of East Douglas Avenue, fast transforming into one of Wichita's most active blocks; however, the area has long struggled to draw consistent foot traffic across the Douglas Avenue Bridge from Old Town. Yellowbrick was approached by neighboring businesses to develop a magnet on the block to draw clientele. Meanwhile, the alley presented challenges to the pedestrian environment, with cars cutting blind across the sidewalk.
Yellowbrick came back with the idea of turning the alley into an art and sculpture park, programmed with arts and cultural events and providing seating for outdoor dining and leisure. Working in conjunction with neighboring property owners and the Downtown Wichita organization -- and made possible by a grant from the Knight Foundation Fund of the Wichita Community Foundation -- the alley was pedestrianized and transformed over a ten-day period in May. The grand opening drew over 2,500 attendees to rave reviews and the first featured artist, Cornell Bell-Steele, sold $3,900 worth of work.
The success of the space is owed in large part to its bones. Only fifteen feet wide, the alley has no building services (such as trash) and is not conducive to two-way vehicular traffic, which provided the opportunity to fully-pedestrianize the space. The cozy width combined with the scale of the three-story buildings on each side creates the feeling of an outdoor living room. Large-scale sculptures from local artists atop limestone blocks line the concrete runners on each side of the alley, with a large, ethereal ground mural by local art collective Lupoli spanning the distance of the alley in the center. Access from Douglas is controlled by a large sculptural bench with integrated seating and bike storage by Lisa Rundstrom, with a vibrant color palette and a unique, abstract form referencing a compact car.
The space comes alive on the final Friday of every month, when a local featured artist displays work on the art rail and local musicians perform as part of Wichita's Final Friday festivities. Particular emphasis has been made to include emerging artists and artists of color; in 2017, three of the five featured artists were artists of color and for most it was their first gallery exhibition. The space is also programmed with special events throughout the year, largely centered around visual arts and music, and provides a relaxing spot to hang out during off-days.
616 East Douglas Avenue
Wichita, KS 67202