Let's Grow Artistically
John T. Davis, May 2011
Topeka is a city of artists waiting to happen--big time. Most have to rely upon the Internet to market their work. The consumer demand needs to be several times higher here to cause local artists to rely upon local sales of their product to lead them away from the proverbial "starving artist" syndrome. Tourism is built into the very "scaffolding" of the River Front proposed track layout and will eventually deliver this kind of annual revenue to Topeka. Artists will notice the difference. One such target is Historic North Topeka where a hot bed of artists may be accumulating and those already estabilshed here, await with their ambitions to become a part of something big. Steel tracks delivering 100's of thousands of visitors to that area daily will open up many doors for this theme area. Any effort and monies invested in that area will be wisely spent. Real estate values on that strip will eventually skyrocket.
I site three examples of organizations that fit into the "scaffold" mentioned in my "From The Editor" section which identifies some magic ingredients as scaffold components, along with track strategy, zoning codes, and various restrictions. NOTO, a North Topeka organization is a magic ingredient along with the North Topeka Business Alliance and TIBA--fitting in with the task of this newspaper (see "Mission Statement." Streetcars have always raised human living in any community anywhere in the nation,and climaxing in the period from the 1890s through the 1940s. (Look at the era that artists prefer to portray.) Of course they have to--the following period, 1940s through mid 1950s was he Great Streetcar Scandal and demolition of city transit rail systems nationwide promoted by GM and certain affiliates and co-conspirators.
This art form and higher standard can and will be reached again in Topeka. To the term "unified voice", as referred to by Tara Dimick, TIBA Chair--I say "yes sir'ree Bob!" That very unified voice must prevail at the voting booth when its about issues of putting streetcars back in Topeka for tourism reasons. Voters will need to realize that steel tracks delivering many hundreds of thousands, and hopefully millions of tourists annually down those tracks--will have no choice but to be led by fixed tracks by neighborhoods and business districts. These tracks, properly routed, will empower these aggressive organizations as mentioned above, and yes, all forms of artists--hopefully working out of the fanaticized multiple theme area of Historic Downtown North Topeka.
I hope to see many local Topeka artists gain publicity on these pages dedicated to streetcar art who can envision the "scaffolding" of the River Front area and create paintings that will help "imprint" the minds and attitudes of Topekans about who they are and what Topeka was, and what it can be again.
The term "growth" was mentioned in a quote on page 18 of the Fall 2010 TK Magazine in the TIBA paragraph. That can be a scary word to me as I have watched "growth" away from our most highest art form as the Topeka skyline and neighborhood scapes have been largely demolished and part of us has taken on a nebulous form undefinable for tourism. As former "powers that be" have hired and paid outrageous sums of money to people from far away to come here and tell us who we are and what to do about ourselves, with the term "ourselves" needing to be defined as well--from these very outsiders! Bottom line--if the Morrell Meats building can survive (see home page and click on photo) --that will tell us what we are and whether we can build our city back to its highest art form again. We must first stop a very bad trend before transplanting a better trend in it's place. Our foundation must be fertile. "Growth" tore down the old Civic Theatre building in North Topeka--a masterpiece of a building.
That is what impresses me about NOTO--artists--if they could do anything about Topeka's growth, they, being artists, would never advocate the tearing down old buildings and the core of all of our history along with it's unique skyline. May these creative people with above average vision, be able to see Topeka the way it was and capture our city they way it can be in the future. (see "Topeka's Streetcar History" button) May they envision vintage-style modern street cars delivering passengers to their front doors. May they literally PAINT Topeka into its future as they watch the "scaffolding" become "green as spring" with NEW GROWTH along the alignment.