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Fairview Heights’ art district progresses with news of sculpture park

Fairview Heights City Council has approved a lease and maintenance agreement with ArtVillage LLC to develop a sculpture park at the southeast corner of Bunkum Road and Lincoln Trail.

Local business owner David Kniepkamp and professional artist/curator Catharine Magel continue moving forward with city leaders in development of a sculpture park and art district in Fairview Heights.

Thanks to the recent land use approval from council members, ArtVillage LLC – a nonprofit organization comprised of innovative private investors and artists – is developing a “superblock” on the west side of Fairview Heights near Grant Middle School. ArtVillage has been steadily purchasing older and/or vacant properties to create the city’s first art district.

Kniepkamp, a longtime local business owner and president of Smart Controls LLC, says ArtVillage’s goal in creating and developing the district is to attract residents, businesses and visitors to Fairview’s west wide.

“We want to support the infrastructure that’s already in place and build upon it by providing a destination for artists and creative designers to live, work, exhibit and prosper,” said Kniepkamp. “Repurposing property and transforming this area of the city into an art district will provide an opportunity for positive economic growth and increase the quality of life that Fairview Heights already enjoys. Our sculpture park will be a warm and inviting place for people to visit during the day, transforming into a sculptural music and light oasis at night.”

Fairview Heights Economic Development Director Paul Ellis says seeking and receiving city input and approval has been important in meeting the city’s strategic goals.

“We sought support from Mayor Mark Kupsky, Director of Land Use Dallas Alley and other key city leaders on this proposed development effort,” Ellis said. “We’ve applied for a grant that could provide additional funding for streetscape improvements to support this development.”

Magel, a professional sculptor whose works include public ceramic installations in Webster Groves, along the Mississippi Greenway and at Metro transit stations regionwide, says the planned Fairview Heights sculpture park will add a signature element to the community,

“We’re excited about the level of creativity and community involvement so far in these early stages,” Magel said. “The sculpture park and the Fairview Heights art district will draw visitors and accomplished artists to our region from other locales. It will be another important quality-of-life component in our city.”

Efforts are underway to secure the first collection of rotating sculptures on loan from Granite City-based Six Mile Sculpture Works. The sculptures are expected to be in place this summer.

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